Thomas Kida, Don’t Believe Everything You Think
According to Thomas Kida, thoughts driving through the minds of individuals may collide resulting in various psychological distresses such as anxiety. The author provides an enlightened discussion on how individuals can ascertain faulty thought processes or thinking. Thomas Kida further reiterates that people can develop necessary thinking, rational, and competency skills to become effective problem solvers. For example, an employee may think and believe that his boss sees him as incompetent and even feel life such assumptions are true. However, when they self-reflect and understand some of the boss’s actions, they may develop different beliefs and realize that such thinking can be unreasonable. From such examples, the basic argument fronted by Thomas Kida is that just because something feels true in the mind or a particular person does not make it necessarily accurate.
Thomas Kida’s excerpt explores the conflict existing between the felt and the observed truth. Failing to recognize distressing thoughts emanating from the unconscious mind can facilitate quick “gut” reactions with forming appropriate beliefs. Thomas Kida identifies various factors such as sibling influences, peer pressure, and other socio-cultural factors as critical in influencing thought patterns. Accepting certain beliefs as the absolute truths without interrogation can have both positive and negative influences on the ultimate decisions made about different issues. For example, a teenager can give in to peer pressure and start abusing dangerous drugs and substances. In such cases, the teenager may have limited control over their ability to apply rational thinking. As such, he may make decisions that can have negative impacts on their health and overall wellness.
Another valid example provided by Thomas Kida is the case of Nancy Reagan’s belief in astrological powers. In particular, Nancy frequently consulted an astrologist to help in designing the President’s work schedule. In this case, Nancy’s beliefs emanate from her unconscious thoughts on the effectiveness of alternative medicine. She did not rely on any reliable evidence to support her thinking and belief in the power and influence of astrology. However, without proper interrogations, such beliefs and thinking processes may result in ineffective outcomes. Thomas Kida describes actions emanating from the unconscious mind as faulty beliefs that may result in adverse complications. He attributes such decisions to individuals’ desires to simplify their thinking processes by relying on cheaper options. Critical thinking is necessary in such cases because it can counteract natural tendencies to rely on the unconscious mind to make pertinent decisions. I agree with Thomas Kida that external factors such as social media outlets can influence individuals’ thinking resulting in possible errors in beliefs and decisions.
Thomas Kida is also encouraging individuals to become skeptics. Specifically, he believes that we should develop the special ability to establish and evaluate the evidence before believing to ascertain their authenticity. For example, being open-minded may help individuals to conduct rigorous scrutiny of their thought patterns and beliefs before making the ultimate decisions about different events. Most importantly, we should assess the quality of our reasons for believing in certain things to help in making thoughtful and intelligent decisions. I believe in the author’s argument that being a skeptic is effective and can help individuals to make accurate and rational judgments.
A Six-Pack of Problems
Correspondingly, Thomas Kida examines the unique “six-pack of problems” that can encourage people to accept false prepositions and viewpoints unconsciously. For instance, increased preferences for stories to statistics can encourage the development of unproductive decisions. Statistics can support the accurate collection, organization, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of certain facts. Through statistics, individuals can make important discoveries and predictions about different beliefs. They can also develop and apply critical thinking and analytical skills through statistics. Relying on statistics is also relevant in deriving perfect and reliable decision. Unfortunately, most people rely on stories and ignore relevant information and evidence when making pertinent judgments. They are lazy and struggle to apply simple statistics in understanding different situations. For example, developing and supply vaccines without relevant statistical information on the prevalence rates of a particular disease can be counterproductive. In such cases, the policymakers may rely on the actions and reactions from their unconscious mind and stories in the media outlets. Accordingly, they should access, assess, and interrogate applicable statistics on the disease to make effective decision about the development and supply of necessary vaccines and medications.
Another valid example is a consumer’s reliance on positive customer reviews when making consumption and purchase decisions. In such instances, the clients may ignore relevant statistics on the product’s functionality and reliability. When buying a car, for example, consumers should rely on the specific data and information on the frequency of repairs detailed in the consumer reports. Overall, in such cases, Thomas Kida is encouraging people to rely on anecdotal evidence rather than stories when making judgments and shaping personal experiences.
Besides, Thomas Kida stipulates that we are more likely to seek a conformation rather than questioning different issues and events. For example, the supporters of a presidential candidate may seek to confirm their election or reelection without paying more attention to their policy decisions. They are not willing to explore valid information that may contradict their existing beliefs and expectation about their preferred candidates. In such cases, individuals are emphasizing their superficial thinking processes rather than on rationality and critical perception and analysis of situations. Arguably, the decision to ignore contradictory data and information may result in bad or ineffective decisions.
Another “six pack problem” is the inability of people to appreciate the role of chance and coincidence in shaping decisions and ideas. In particular, people are quick to believe superior knowledge about certain issues. For instance, an advertisement in the print media about the lucrative performance of a mutual fund may encourage people to invest in related projects. In such cases, the investors may fail to scrutinize the other important data and information about the mutual fund such as the stock market performances. Therefore, according to Thomas Kida, effective resolutions should originate from the comprehensive assessment of the mutual fund’s market performances.
Similarly, Thomas Kida observes that we can sometimes misperceive the world around us, failing to make applicable resolutions. The excerpt attributes such as actions to the concept of selective perception. According to the concept, people tend to focus on inaccurate perceptions, expectations, and desires. The development of expectations can encourage a rigid perception of events and ideas. Faulty perceptions can encourage delusional thoughts and misjudgments. Therefore, a clear perception of reality based on personal experiences and rational thinking can result in effective and valid decisions.
Lastly, Thomas Kida asserts that individuals tend to oversimplify their thinking, and their memories are often inaccurate. For instance, the simplification of different strategies may encourage people to focus on gathering and evaluating related information and issues. However, simplification strategies may limit the development of reasonable decisions. For example, we may fail to pay special attention to critical issues that are significant in various decision-making processes. The faulty memory process is also critical in different critical thinking and decision-making processes. For example, a person may fail to recreate new memories from a snapshot of different events. Reliance on scientific knowledge and methods is also crucial in the development of reasoned beliefs.
Thomas Kida’s illustrations are very accurate in demonstrating the ability of individuals to believe in fallacies or false assumptions. In a complex society, the potential to evaluate the validity of conflicting claims is a fundamental factor in critical-thinking. In conclusion, Thomas Kida’s excerpt is informative, engaging, and invaluable proof of the role of the unconscious mind in rational thinking. Therefore, to have a smooth flowing life, individuals should not always believe in everything they think or discern. They should interrogate the sources of their thoughts to ascertain whether they are positive, negative, or neutral. Most importantly, Thomas Kida opines that people should avoid becoming self-critical when interrogating their thoughts and thinking patterns.
Kida, Thomas E. Don’t believe everything you think: The 6 basic mistakes we make in thinking. Prometheus Books, 2009.