I’ve been thinking a lot about the attitudes of the general public. Seeing opinions represented by the behavior of my friends and family. How their language shifts in times of mainstream conflict or discussion.
Currently, Americans seem to be in total disagreement about what is going on in the world around them. How to handle their role in the battle against COVID-19, and whether or not such a virus even exists… Arguing over the validity of reporting and journalism due to heavy political bias. Hijacking patriotism and “core values” to support said bias to a degree where it villianizes anyone that may disagree.
What America is experiencing right now is a critical thinking crisis.
A quick trip down the comments section of social media forums will reveal the almost convenient polarity of America’s mainstream schools of thought. Conversations regarding science, history, social justice, economics, religion, philosophy, medicine, health and wellness, the list goes on… Sometimes it feels like these “schools of thought” have evolved to the point of inherently disagreeing about everything.
Now one may say “having a difference of opinion is healthy for debate”, and I would agree, but the majority of the conflict that comes to light in discussion of these topics is not a difference of opinion. It’s a disagreement on reality.
Two people debating which Taylor Swift album best showcases her songwriting abilities and instrumental prowess is an example of a difference of opinion. Whether or not pineapple makes a good pizza topping is an example of a difference of opinion. An argument about the moon landing having taken place or was faked, if the Earth is flat, the existence of COVID-19 and it being the harbinger of the “Mark of the Beast” through vaccination, claiming that wearing a surgical mask is a political statement, or declaring the Civil War was fought over state’s rights but not the right to own slaves… These are disagreements on reality.
Digging deeper into the conflict, one will discover the claims regarding education. One group advocates that education is a tool for understanding and a gateway to enlightenment. Another group insists it is an insidious weapon of indoctrination.
According to the definition provided by Oxford Languages, critical thinking is “the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgement”. With objectivity being a critical factor in this practice, it is clear why polarized camps fail to reach an agreement. Allegiance to bias comes first, then opinions get formed.
What I find troubling is not that ideologies conflict one another on an emotional level, but that interpretations of facts can be so at odds that one feels like the only logical conclusion to make is that “the other is wrong”.