April 11, 2020
Social media and internet in general have shrank the world. At the same time it has widened ideological divide and atrophied critical thinking.
The Pew Research Center tracked opinions on several issues and compared results over 23 years. There was an average 15 percentage-point gap between left-leaning and right-leaning individuals on all topics in 1994. That gap widened to 36 percentage points in 2017.
This phenomenon is glaring as it relates to opinions on the coronavirus pandemic. A majority of left-leaning individuals (59%) believe the pandemic is a major public health threat versus 33% of right-leaning individuals. Most Americans overall (62%) believe news media have exaggerated and even fabricated coverage.
Critical thinking is more important than anytime in our history due to the foregoing. Unfortunately it is rare in the 21st century, particularly among younger people. The 2019 “State of Critical Thinking” survey by Massachusetts-based MindEdge placed a spotlight on the gradual extinction of this important life skill.
The survey presented nine questions about fake news to 1,001 college-educated Americans. Most respondents (69%) failed the test, answering five or fewer questions correctly. The survey showed that critical thinking improves with age. 43% of baby boomers (age 55+) passed the test with six or more correct answers versus 26% of Millennials (age 23-38). Granted the test excluded Generation X and is thus incomplete. But it provides a launch point for reinforcing a vital skill.
Critical thinking and alpha brain waves
There is no universal definition of critical thinking. The general concept entails analyzing, evaluating and applying facts while considering potential confounding variables. For instance, a hypothetical research question asks “does body weight and proportionality effect your ability to attract women?” The material answer is yes in most cases. But income and resources also effect attraction. Women, from an evolutionary standpoint, are more attracted to men with resources (a confounding variable). Thus you cannot take the original poll question at face value.
Critical thinking is most often done on the brain’s Beta wavelength. These frequencies (up to 40 Hz) are faster than Alpha waves (up to 12 Hz). You’re typically in a Beta state during normal daily activities – working your job, doing homework, working out at the gym, etc. These are high-level activities that move fast to realize potential. The saying goes “haste makes waste,” specifically related to high-level thought.
Critical thinking is not being argumentative or attacking someone else based on their position. It’s a process of identifying fallacious details, faulty reasoning and biased information to reach a logical conclusion. The Alpha state is relaxation, visualization and peaceful consciousness. Your parents, teachers and other mentors likely told you at some point to sleep on it before making big decisions. A critical thinker is a diligent one who considers his conscious mindset at the time of important decisions.
The Kaepernick-Jets “signing”
Society moves fast in 2020. We’ve turned into an instant gratification species that is more concerned with finishing the task than doing it right. A Twitter parody account tweeted on Thursday that the New York Jets signed quarterback Colin Kaepernick to a one-year, $9 million contract.
Many journalists, politicians and other influential people reacted with a range of emotions, from praise to disgust. They all ended up deleting their responses when it was realized the account that tweeted the news was parody.
This was a simple critical thinking moment that many passed up in favor of being first to react. It also proved the foregoing data – critical thinking is a lost part of collective consciousness. Connecting with your alpha wavelength facilitates critical thinking in a world of boundless information and instant gratification.
Contact Arlen J today if you have questions about the alpha brain wavelength and its correlation with critical thinking.