The bandwagon fallacy assumes that something must be true because others think it is. A great example is found in thousands of HR departments that value the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator because so many others use it. Just like a perpetual motion machine, its popularity is interpreted as an indication of its accuracy and utility, which leads to wider use and less inclination to question its foundations. There is no scientific evidence that the Myers-Briggs measures anything of value. It is widely considered by psychologists and psychoanalysts to be no more than pseudoscience. Most well-informed people agree it provides a ridiculously limited and simplified view of human personality, a concept known to be very complex.
Opinions are how we feel. Assumptions are things we take for granted
Opinions are beliefs that we have formed about topics, issues, and more. They are not factual but are generalized feelings and judgments based on insufficient grounds. They may be positive or negative and are often the products of our selective perceptions.
As they say back in the hills, when you assume something, you make an ASS out of U and ME.
Assumptions are things we take for granted, never stopping to wonder if they are true. They box us in, narrowing our views and limiting our ability to understand the world. We accept assumptions as truths — without question and without proof. To challenge them, we must get outside our comfort zone. That means leaving that comfortable box we are in and really thinking outside it instead of just using it as the cliché it is.
The way to do that is by learning to think critically
Critical thinking is the process of questioning, analyzing, interpreting, evaluating, and then forming judgments about what we read and hear. This means finding the answers to these simple questions we need to ask when evaluating information.
- Who said it?
- What did they say?
- How did they say it?
- Why did they say it?
To be a better critical thinker, first learn to be a critical listener
Also known as active listening, critical listening is the ability to separate opinions and assumptions from facts. Indeed.com says critical listening is the process of “actively digesting and analyzing what you’re hearing.” It requires not only systematic thinking and reasoning but also our determining if a message is supported by factual evidence. It takes a lot of effort, so save your critical listening skills for the times it is really important for you to analyze and evaluate complex information.
Here are a few important questions that will help you develop your ability to listen critically
- Is the message logical and reasonable?
- What assumptions and biases are involved?
- Are opinions kept separate from the facts?
- Is the evidence factual and complete?
- What is being left out?
The University of Wisconsin Milwaukee describes the difference between hearing and listening by saying hearing is an automatic and accidental response to sounds while listening is focused, concentrated attention. There are four basic ways to listen. The last is the way critical thinkers listen critically:
- People-oriented listeners pay more attention to the speaker than the message.
- Action-oriented listeners want to hear what needs to be done more than the reasons for doing it.
- Time-oriented listeners want a message that cuts to the chase, quickly getting to the point.
- Content-oriented listeners are interested in the extent to which a message is accurate, makes sense, and what the real meaning is.
Want to read more articles like this? Click here.