Skepticism is great. In fact, I believe skepticism can be seen as foundation for knowledge. Gathering knowledge is not all about gaining information from different sources, it’s also (or mainly, I should say) about the quality of the information we assimilate.
We live in an era of information, it jumps towards us from every corner, screen, piece of written paper, speaker or human mouth. But not everything we are exposed to is knowledge material in what regards the quality of the data we’re being fed. So we need to be selective in order to achieve a level of assimilated information that is also rational, valid, scientific. As I’ve mentioned previously in my article about Cognitive Distortions, deformed thought processes create a misleading model of reality in our minds and therefore, the relationships we build based on this premise, lack authenticity.
So, the more valid the information we gather, the more authentic our perception of the world.
There are many ways in which we can verify information for validity, but this is not the purpose of this blog post. However, the starting point would be to question the world in an awareness-guided manner. Don’t just absorb data, don’t consider every source trustworthy and I would also encourage you to rely on your own awareness, senses, and cognitive abilities when assessing information.
I am not saying that we should have a paranoid attitude towards the world – that would be maladaptive – but that we should build a sense of Critical Thinking and make it one of our most used lenses.
I like it when in therapy, in workshops or seminars or during informal gatherings or personal communications people react to something I convey by saying “Really? I find that hard to believe. Do things actually happen in that manner?”. I like it that they don’t just believe me because I’m there as a specialist or as a speaker and that they don’t choose to smother their reaction in order to be diplomatic and avoid hurting my feelings (by the way, that’s not how one would hurt my feelings – there are other ways, however). I like it because that’s how (a) I know that my message got to them, they were paying attention to what I was saying and not only that, but they’ve also confronted the new information with their previous information, value or belief and (b) because their reaction opens the door to the best question of all : “How do we know that something is valid/true/scientific?”. Then a talk about evidence emerges: what is the evidence that we have for now, is it enough, is it relevant to the conclusion that we are trying to make etc. And that’s fantastic! People asking and looking for evidence prior to assimilating information, is evidence of Critical Thinkers in the room. And I like rooms filled with Critical Thinkers.
Question everything, ask for evidence, assess the evidence and come to your own conclusion. This will lead to a more authentic, happy and fulfilling life. And don’t just take my word for it. Try and see it for yourself!
Article Updates: Featured Image updated March 18th, 2018.