The slow disappearance of the critical mind and common sense.

Where do we, as coaches, get our technical and (self-)educational information from? Some colleagues may think that hardcopy books are out, so they rely on the Internet as their main source of information. Some colleagues like to visit any course, seminar or workshop they can. Great, at least they invested time, money and effort to educate themselves, which shows their motivation to learn.

The Internet is the biggest garbage dump (of information) one can find. The earlier promise of the Internet becoming the perfect way of access to all information in the world, (all libraries written, or spoken technical information) might be fulfilled, but the needles are hidden in the haystack, where to find them?

The reason is that there is no filter on the Internet, you can find anything to support your idea, no matter if it’s irrelevant, stupid or crazy. For every idea you can imagine, you will find support as well as a contrary argument on the Internet.

Also I hear people say there could be nonsense in books as well. Absolutely, but did you ever try to write a book? Then you know before you do that, you have to have an idea, take time to write the book and consider what you will write building a comprehensible structure in chapters. After that have it proofread by, preferably, an expert in the field, to make sure he/she understands what you are trying to convey. And then, in my case, after a few months, it’s ready.
A blogpost, like this one, is written in a few minutes, without any control or limitation.

It gets worse in tweets where every brain fart, moronic assumption, or cheap soundbite is produced within seconds and shared with the rest of this planet, even insults and threats are shared without much thinking. (but often with regrets, excuses or penalties later on)
The best way from copying somebody else’s faulty thinking or passing on his/her errors, is to develop a critical mind.

But …. a critical mind is hard to find. Most people assume that everything to be found at the Internet is true. So yes, the internet is a great marketing and sales tool. But also perfect for propaganda, misinformation, or plagiarism (or alternative facts).
Many young coaches are very sensitive for Internet information and tend to believe everything they read or see without filtering.

Common sense might be a good filter, but common sense is not that common (as a matter of fact: Common Sense died some time ago- see the note below)
For homework here are a few articles that may help you help you to understand the value of information, of critical thinking, and to develop a decent bullshit-filter and sharpen your mind to cut through to nonsense like a scalpel.

Author Robert Heinlein once wrote:

“Most people can’t think, most of the remainder won’t think, the small fraction who do think mostly can’t do it very well. The extremely tiny fraction who think regularly, accurately, creatively, and without self-delusion. In the long run, these are the only people who count.”

Bibliography.

On Bullshit: Harry Frankfurt, Princeton University Press, 2005.

A practical guide to critical thinking: deciding what to do and believe; David A.Hunter; Wiley and Sons Publishers, 2009.

An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments: Ali Almossawi; JasperCollins Publishers, 2013.

Stapleton, P: Assessing the quality and bias of web-based sources: implications for academic writing; Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 2 , 2003, pg. 229–245

Attacking Faulty Reasoning: A Practical Guide to Fallacy-Free Arguments: T. Edward Damer; Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2009.

The Fine Art of Baloney Detection; from: The Demon-haunted World: Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, Random House, 2000.

The Folly of Fools: the logic of deceit of self-deception in human life: Robert Trivers , Basic Books, 2011.

The Psychology of Counterfactual Thinking: D. Mandel, D. Hilton, P. Catellani; Routledge, 2005.

The Web vs. Library Databases – A comparison -University of Maryland

Why people believe weird things: pseudoscience, superstition, and other confusions of our time; Michael Schermer, W.H.Freeman/Owl, 2002.

Note:
Probably more appropriate than ever before.
Many different versions of this text exist, but I chose this one randomly:

“An Obituary printed in the London Times

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who
has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was,
since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He
will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:
– Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
– Why the early bird gets the worm;
– Life isn’t always fair;
– and maybe it was my fault.
Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t spend
more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children,
are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but
overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy
charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended
from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for
reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the
job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly
children.

It declined even further when schools were required to get parental
consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could
not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an
abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses;
and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn’t defend yourself from a
burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to
realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in
her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust, by
his wife, Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son,
Reason.

He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers;
I Know My Rights
I Want It Now
Someone Else Is To Blame
I’m A Victim

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. If
you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do
nothing.”

About Henk Kraaijenhof

My name is Henk Kraaijenhof and I started this blog as a random collection of concepts, ideas, stories and events that are important or interesting to me in my work as an international performance consultant in a wide range of fields, and sometimes outside of my work. I will try to post a new entry every 3-4 days. Feel free to comment if you like.
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