Straight versus Crooked Thinking

Suppose we want a belief system built on evidence and sound, rational thinking. In that case, we will need straight (analytical, logical) thinking to comprise a convincing faith of our heads as well as our hearts.   And suppose we are going to persuade our children. In that case, we must also have watertight arguments and not forget to model the facts we endeavor to convince them to adopt.   To achieve our goals, we must have a clear understanding and command of straight versus crooked thinking. Straight versus crooked may be easy to identify when it comes to trees, but not so when it comes to thoughts.

Straight thinking is thinking:

  • Factually (which means with all the facts fairly represented).
  • Accurately (which means telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth about all the facts, not just some of the facts, as specious arguments do). Arguments that have the ring of truth but are, in reality, misleading are the stock in modern-day sophists’ trade.  
  • Truthfully (which means without falsification and twisting of the facts).
  • Honestly (which includes being motivated by honesty as well as being honest). A legitimate basis for reasoning starts in the heart, in our love for others.  
  • Interpreting realistically (not building a case on speculation, fantasy, or imagination and passing it off as truth).
  • Verifiably (meaning using facts that we can evidentially verify). We find that evidence in our physical universe (including all the minutest details of living creatures) and in our valid experiences (not forgetting our subjective realities).  
  • Consistently (meaning without contradiction or flipping our position, like politicians often do), giving our reasons without changing them in midstream to avoid a trap. This consistency is the bread and butter of a solid argument.  
  • Unadulterated by irrelevant facts (means don’t divert from the point under discussion by changing the conversation to facts that are not relevant. Don’t chase irrelevant “rabbits” to shift the debate to trivial details).  
  • Just (meaning what is fair and impartial).  
  • Logical (what we will call straight thinking and the opposite of crooked thinking). Logical thinking is thinking from accurate and defensible assumptions, then constructing logically rational arguments based on your premise. (Of this, you will find plenty of examples in Who Am I?  If needed, you will learn straight thinking as you read.)

Unfortunately, the way of thinking that lies behind our culture’s latest changes fails on all these counts. Postmodernism and its accepted theories — materialism and natural selection — are classic examples of trampling all over straight and logical thinking.  

What is Crooked Thinking?

It is when our thinking is inaccurate, dishonest, or crooked and when we say or do any or all of the following.  

Crooked thinking is:

  • Saying, “Everyone thinks this” when everyone doesn’t, or saying “Everyone does it,” when everyone doesn’t — an argument with which parents are all too familiar), or “We all know this to be a fact,” when it is not a universal belief. We call this stretching the truth, exaggeration, and sometimes blatant lying in the hope no one will fact-check us. When citing common sense, it is a valid argument only if those listening to you agree that most people would commonly hold it as sensible.  
  • Fastening on a trivial point in the discussion while avoiding the main issue. Declaring the whole argument to be false because you observe a minor divergence from accuracy. 
  • Arguing the universal acceptance of a dubious point, when in fact, it isn’t widely accepted.
  • Resorting to illogical reasoning based on false assumptions. These invalidate the whole argument. One must restate the premise accurately, and the restated assumption must support the logic.  
  • Manipulating people’s emotions by making shocking, indefensible statements that do not represent the whole truth to get people to believe what is one is arguing. Because emotions are usually a part of an argument, they must not possess more importance than they should rightly have.  
  • Using one’s education or status to claim validity for one’s statements. This is hiding behind status or literacy and asking for trustworthiness on that basis.  

Our Culture’s “Crooked” Tactics

The thinking behind our culture’s latest changes uses these “crooked” tactics to persuade us of their beliefs. It fails to be concerned about straight thinking. The Postmodernists’ minds do not need straight thinking because they do not value or accept the validity of reason and logic, reality, and truth. We can still use straight thinking to dispute their arguments but understand, we should first have determined the real reasons why our listener is holding firm to their position. Sometimes emotional reasons are dominant. We need to show these emotional reasons to be of less value than the truth and what it offers us, or we will not succeed in challenging their opinions.  We need to help them, as well as ourselves, to identify straight versus crooked thinking. 

Irrational Tactics

Most of these irrational tactics are easily detectable, so be your own judge. However, often dishonest people will also twist the truth and only partly represent it to achieve their goals. This tactic is called sophistry — a way that was taught to the Greeks in order to deceive people as early in our history as 600 BC. The practice of sophistry is why we take the oath in court to speak “the whole truth and nothing but the truth” — no bending or inadequate representation of the truth allowed. Deception is to be ferreted out. We must use truth alone to form a just verdict. Finding the truth is what we require of our Courts.  

Confusing Our Youngsters

Let’s talk about teens for a moment. Teenage is the time when our youth are searching for answers to who they are. The way a person identifies themselves will take them into their 20’s with a head start on life. However, if they believe themselves to be someone other than who they really are, plus if one fails to understand the core of who they are, they will spend the next decade or two frustrated, disappointed, unfulfilled, and confused.

Teenage is a rough passage for most because they do not understand themselves. Each must settle for themselves “who I am” in all its basic requirements during this stage of life.  They must have the understanding to employ straight versus crooked thinking.

Tools for parents are coming up to show how you can best reach your child (and your mind) by learning how to talk to the different temperaments. I’m looking forward to these articles. 

There is more to come!  Stay tuned!

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