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S.M.A.R.T. and S.T.U.P.I.D.: Teaching My Child HOW to Think - Part 3

Updated: Oct 5, 2020


S = Snap

T = Total

U = Unquestioned

P = Passive

I = Ideologically Filtered

D = Dogmatic

Sign #2 of S.T.U.P.I.D. Thinking

T = Total Judgments


The second sign that alerts me to my own S.T.U.P.I.D. thinking is when my judgments are TOTAL.


Snap judgments.


Total judgments.


In fact, I could almost stop right here.


If you want to encapsulate my own personal stupidity and that of the masses, it is this. We make snap, total judgments on almost everything.


Again, go to Social Media and throw out a controversial take on something. The venom that will come back will not only contain people’s snap judgments. They will be TOTAL judgments. Look for the totalism. Listen for the totalism.


· “You are a ‘total’ moron.”

· “You’re a ‘complete’ idiot.”

· “Donald Trump is ‘pure’ evil.”

· “Nancy Pelosi is ‘absolutely’ insane.”

· “ALL cops are crooked.”

· “ALL whites are racist.”

· “THE science on that subject is ‘settled.’” ("settled science" is an oxymoron)

· “You’re position is ‘entirely’ immoral.”

· “You’re ‘totally’ ignorant on the subject.”

· “You know ‘nothing.’”

· “You’re ‘utterly’ incompetent to speak on this subject.”


Total judgments are a sure sign of stupid thinking. It’s lazy thinking. It’s not thinking rightly or justly.


That is, it doesn’t take the time required to think about something just as it is. Not worse than it is. Not better than it is. Just as it is.


Why do we make so many snap, total judgments?


Because humans have so much on their brains already.


As a result, we take shortcuts in thinking. We make snap, total judgments on things. We label something and leave it. Then we go on living under the delusion that we “know about that.”


We pretend we can make snap, total judgments and hit the bull’s eye of truth.


And we even moralize our snap, total judgments. We act virtuous as we boast, “I’m just a ‘calls ‘em like I sees ‘em’ type of person.” We pride ourselves as being “black or white” on an issue. As though we possess uncommon moral clarity on all issues.


But the reality is that most of us humans are extremely lazy “EITHER…OR” thinkers. To the vast majority of us, something is EITHER 100% true, OR it is 100% false. Someone is EITHER 100% good, OR he or she is 100% evil.


No exceptions. No nuance. No degrees. No spectrum. No shades of gray.


Nope, it’s a TOTAL judgment one way or another. No mixture of truth and falsehood. No mixture of good and evil.


Because any concession of a mixture requires humility, honesty, hardworking investigation of the real facts, and wisdom. Whose got time for that?


"Totalists" are rarely, if ever, going to arrive at truth.


Again, most people think determining what is true only has two choices. “It’s EITHER this…OR it’s that.” They rarely recognize that truth is usually a wide spectrum. And that there are not just 50 shades of gray on some subjects. But there may be 500, 5000, or 5,000,000.


But why work through a truth spectrum?


Being a totalist is just a lot easier. It’s a lot less work.


Saying Barack Obama’s two terms of President were a “complete” disaster is so much easier than saying, “I have extensively studied Obama’s Presidency. Here’s the 10 things he did that I think were fantastic. Here’s the 10 things he did that really hurt our country.”


One’s political tribe and their lack of time do not allow for such reasonable thinking.


Saying Donald Trump is “pure” evil is so much easier than saying, “I have closely followed the Trump Presidency. Here’s the 10 things he did that helped America. Here’s the 10 things he did that hurt America.”


Again, one’s political tribe and their lack of time do not allow for such even-handed mental processing.


And on an everyday, practical level, saying, “That guy is a ‘total’ idiot,” is so much easier than getting to know the person. It’s much easier than actually trying to find out why the guy was acting like an idiot in that moment.


Letting your first impulse be to judge, is so much easier than letting your first impulse be to love. Love takes work. It may involve listening. It may involve forgiveness. It may involve understanding. Whose got time for that?


If you guard yourself against making snap, total judgments, you’re going to be way ahead of most of humanity.



Next time: S.M.A.R.T. and S.T.U.P.I.D.: Teaching My Child How to Think - Part 4.


The third sign of S.T.U.P.I.D. thinking.


U = Unquestioned judgments.

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