Tag Archives: critical-thinking

Rational/Emotional Logic

A friend “wrote an entry”:http://fadingdust.wordpress.com/2007/02/01/its-all-in-your-head yesterday that got me thinking – the natural state of so-called ‘rational thinkers’ is, at best, skepticism and, at worst, out-right cynicism and condescension. The rational thinker realizes that there is always something more to learn, something more to know. He realizes that never in his life will he be able to get his mind around everything there is to know and experience; he realizes that any conclusion he comes to is going to be prone to error. Every fact and tidbit is subject to revision as more data is received, processed, and catalogued. Doubt and uncertainty become, to some extent, a way of life because everything the rationalist knows is subject to change, given the right sort of revelations (usually involving new things coming from the scientific community).

So it’s ironic, then, that the more knowledge one possesses, the less rational that person can become. Human beings are, by their very natures, emotional creatures. Everything we do and think involves an emotional factor, an _irrational_ reaction that rationality by itself often cannot predict or counter. Because everything the rationalist knows can be called into question, can be subject to revision, there is an inherent emotional stressor (called doubt) present that often goes unidentified, one that, if left unchecked, can actually undermine the very process of rational thought.

The rationalist attempts to logically work his way through a problem area, using critical thinking as his primary tool. He works from a set of “presuppositions”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/2007/01/26/presuppositionalism-science-and-faith/ based on those bits of knowledge he already possesses and has been able to fit together, leaving any of them open to revision in the event he finds that the new information he has just gleaned sheds some new light on any of those beliefs. He neglects, however, to account for the seemingly random emotional factor, disregarding it as unimportant exactly _because_ it is not ‘rational.’ So, when he is faced with a confrontational factor during this rational process, he is frequently unable to deal with it and locks down his rational system, ultimately by walling himself behind those things he already believes and sees as ‘safe’ and solid because those are the things he has already worked through and believes to be true. As a result any information that was presented in a confrontational manner is disregarded as illogical and irrational – whether or not it actually is – because it evoked an adverse, stressful emotional response. This decision is typically reinforced when it is philosophical in nature, when it is something that rational science cannot itself examine directly.

The presupposed way of thinking is, therefore, reinforced – it’s safe and does not make the rational thinker _feel_ stressed or upset. It is ordered, structured, logical and is thus deemed to be the better conclusion of the two.

Sometimes, then, rational thinking can, in fact, be an emotional reaction and therefore be the more irrational of the two. True rational thought should recognize the presence of emotion and not only prevent it from ruling the thought process but should take it into account and even integrate it.

Presuppositionalism, Science, and Faith

I know I’m probably going to take a beating for writing this, but here goes, anyway.

I suppose you could say that I’m a “pressuppositionalist”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presuppositionalist – I tend to follow an apologetic approach that believes it is impossible to find “meaning in anything where man himself is at the center of the pursuit for truth and understanding”:http://www.cmfnow.com/articles/pa210.htm. I carry with me a “certain set of core beliefs and assumptions”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/2005/04/16/saturday-april-16-2005-at-0812-pm/ that guide and govern, not only those things that I do, but also the way I fit together all knowledge into a cohesive whole.

It’s interesting – when the evolutionist looks around him and witnesses nature, “he sees millions of years of natural selection at work”:http://highlyallochthonous.blogspot.com/2006/10/mountain-musings-2-whats-god-got-to-do.html; when I look around me, I can’t but believe that _something_ had to have put all this in place. This belief is based purely in logic and observation – I just find it impossible to think that chaos at the beginning of time could have somehow found its way into some sense of organization that just naturally progressed over billions and billions of years to what we have now. That, to me, requires a much greater leap of faith than believing in an intelligent creator. From everything I’ve seen and witnessed and studied, the natural state of the universe at large tends toward entropy. Everything that currently exists is moving steadily toward a state of decay and decline, not the other way around. This has ever been the way of things. So I find it much easier to believe that everything started in a state of perfect order that somehow began a downward spiral toward chaos.

Both of these viewpoints are based on a set of presuppositions. For the evolutionist, there is no God, no creator, no intelligent designer, merely a “long process of natural selection”:http://skatje.com/?p=103, with new species adapting to their environments until we have the diversity that we see today. And natural selection makes some amount of sense, since it _is_ directly observable in the world around us – the strongest of the herd survive while the slowest, sickest, and least able to adapt die off, thus strengthening the species as a whole. I just have trouble believing that natural selection could ever have, ultimately, brought humanity into existence from a single-celled bacterium – and I have yet to see compelling evidence that states such. For the creationist (or the IDist), there must have been something intelligent and powerful to have set all this in place, that there is no way for something like this universe in which we live to have come about by chance or some evolutionary process.

Consider this – what if the all that scientific data that has been collected on the origins of the universe and the evolutions of the species can’t be trusted? Secular scientists place a lot of faith in rationality. They place man at the very center of rationality itself by presupposing that systematic, scientific study will eventually unlock all the secrets of the universe – or at least that’s the goal and hope – and this methodology _does_ and has worked in a great many areas of study and research. But what if scientific study as it relates to these two macroscopic issues has been placed in the wrong context? What if, by placing man at the center, by assuming that if we only ask the right questions and study things in as unbiased a manner as possible, what if in doing science in this manner, we are getting it wrong? What if this basic assumption in secular science has led to a great many misunderstandings and misinterpretations of the data we have?

I believe that faith and science _can_, indeed, “complement each other”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/2007/01/05/christians-and-scientific-discussion/. When “framed in the context of an intelligent designer”:http://www.answersingenesis.org/, the scientific data that seems to lend itself so strongly for evolution yields a very different picture. And contrary to popular belief, scientists who believe in intelligent design _are_ still scientists who work within the constraints of their field. The data I’ve seen on sites like Answers in Genesis is the same data I’ve seen shown on secular science sites, with the same explanations of what it means. The difference is that Christian scientists provide alternative solutions for why some of that data might be misleading. It is unfortunate, in a way, that many of these explanations can never be verified, as they are the result of “unreproducible events”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/2007/01/05/christians-and-scientific-discussion/#comment-8899. Similarly, neither can secular scientists prove their claims about the origins of the universe for the exact same reason. Despite objections from the secular community, Christian scientists _are_ able to provide a complete, unified response for their conclusions based on their presuppositions. And theirs is a response that makes _much_ more logical, rational sense to me than the origins answers that secular science sometimes provides.

And this is where faith bonds with science. We believe, based on a record given in the Bible, that the Earth looked a certain way during its beginning. Framing scientific data into this context provides an explanation why, for instance, “carbon dating may not be as accurate”:http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs2002/carbon_dating.asp as is generally assumed by the secular scientific community. Because none of these events that various groups believe in – Creation, Big Bang, Great Flood, evolution – can actually be reproduced and examined first-hand, certain things must, by necessity, be taken with a certain measure of faith. This does not stop scientific study itself, nor should it. Mankind is, by his very nature, curious and so there is a great deal of worth to be derived from such pursuits. But the scientific community, no matter what camp, should bear in mind that personal presuppositions are going to greatly influence the way the collected data is interpreted.

So does secular rationality actually fail when faced with its own presuppositions? We can only wait and see, but I would posit that, yes, it does. Mankind is a “limited”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/2006/09/05/finite-to-infinite-2/, “finite”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/2006/04/05/finite-to-infinite/ creature, and as such our abilities to know and understand will always be subject to that limitation. If science, by itself, reveals anything to us with regard to the origins of everything that is, it will be that we can never know everything and that some ‘secrets’, like how the universe began or where mankind came from, will never be answered by science alone.

But don’t mind me – those’re just my presuppositions talking.

Circuitous Development

I don’t usually like to be spoon-fed my ideas and opinions. I like to be able to work things out for myself, take what is known and think it through as comprehensively as possible to arrive at what seems to me to be a reasonable and elegant conclusion. I enjoy the process of analysis (go figure, right?), and I enjoy being able to figure things out for myself.

As a result whenever I approach a subject or an issue, I don’t always do it from the most direct route. Sometimes, it’s both fun and interesting to arrive at the subject through the back door, or through a side window, or by dropping in through the skylight. I don’t always like to present every aspect in the discussion, either, because I enjoy the process of dialogue. I enjoy provoking others to think, as well, so by providing only snippets and pieces, it prompts others to think and work through the issues accordingly, and it forces everyone to think about some of the lesser thought-of, but not necessarily any less important, aspects of the issue at hand.

I have been accused of being too much of a devil’s advocate at times, of being somewhat argumentative (though more the former than the latter). Because I don’t even always stick to arguing my own opinions and beliefs, people sometimes find me frustrating because they don’t know where I stand on an issue or because I seem to be espousing an incorrect and wrong-headed viewpoint. Usually, this is simply because I am trying to cover as many of the relevant details surrounding the topic as possible and, again, trying to prompt others to think for themselves.

Apparently, this also sometimes results in the notion that I have not actually addressed the subject at hand _because_ of the fact that I am not necessarily approaching it directly. And to their credit, sometimes I’m implying the connection between the subject at hand and what I am saying so subtly that no one but me can even see that a connection exists, at which point I have to force myself to be more clear and be even a little more direct in presenting my argument. After all it doesn’t do any good at prompting others to think when I don’t actually give them enough to think about. But I do sometimes like to provide as little as possible to hint at the connection to at least get the conversation going, with the hopes that everyone else participating will eventually be able to fill in the gaps and arrive at both the connection and the conclusion that I have.

So, if sometimes I seem to be saying one thing, particularly if it sounds extreme, rash, or harsh, read it again and think about how my argument might be approaching the truth of the matter from a slightly different direction. And if, after having thought about it, you still don’t see it, ask me again. You’ll probably find that my actual conclusion is far more fair and balanced than it seemed at first. I probably just tossed it in through a window and let it bounce around a bit, curious to see where it would end up.

Erroneous Assumptions

I’ve enjoyed reading “The Banana Republican”:http://thebananarepublican.blogspot.com. Every single one of his entries is short yet extremely intellectually stimulating. Naturally, most of the thoughts expressed there are based on certain assumptions and presuppositions, and as a result, some of the logical steps look a little ‘leapish’, but it is enough to get the ol’ mental juices flowing. ((The only thing I wish he would do is allow commenting on his site. I love being able to leave feedback.))

Here’s one from today:

bq. Negative Bible critics wrongly assume that the unexplained is unexplainable, forget the Bible’s human characteristics, assume the Bible is guilty of error unless proven innocent, confuse interpretations with revelation, assume a partial report is a false report, fail to understand the context, presume that the Bible approves of everything it records, neglect to note literary devices, assume divergent accounts are false, forget that only the original text is inerrant, assume round numbers are false, confuse general statements with universal statements, and forget that later revelation supersedes earlier revelation. “#”:http://thebananarepublican.blogspot.com/2006/02/negative-bible-critics-wrongly-assume.html

Several excellent points raised here, very adequately and succinctly stated:

bq. Negative Bible critics wrongly assume that the unexplained is unexplainable…

Try, for instance, the Trinity. How is it possible to have one Being that is actually three separate Beings and still have them be perfectly united as one. How can they maintain their separateness if they are the same? Or, the God-manhood of Jesus. How do you have an individual that is at the same time 100% God and 100% man. It doesn’t logically compute, yet the Bible states that it is, in fact, truth. It is not explained, but that does not necessarily mean it is unexplainable.

bq. …forget the Bible’s human characteristics…

Except where it is convenient to do so. Critics of the Bible are quick to point out the supposed contradictions in the Bible and claim that it is demonstrative of an inconsistent God. Or they want to point out that the Bible was written by men and therefore it is impossible for it to be truthful or accurate.

bq. …assume the Bible is guilty of error unless proven innocent…

Easy assumption to make, since every other book in existence has errors of some kind. ((Or tends to develop errors over time.)) But yes, they are quick to accuse and never allow the chance for supporters of the Bible to demonstrate how it is in no way guilty of error.

bq. …confuse interpretations with revelation…

Bingo. This is a biggie. Every single English translation has some error contained within it. That’s the nature of translation and why Biblical scholars place such heavy emphasis on the original manuscripts.

bq. …assume a partial report is a false report…

How true. Many places in the Bible only a partial record of events is given. Critics claim that this means the stories much be false, which is a logical fallacy. ‘A’ does not necessarily beget ‘B’, or ‘A partial record does not necessarily mean that the event did not occur.’

bq. …fail to understand the context…

Context is, in fact, often ignored. It’s actually a problem even within Christian circles. It’s easy to quote something as support for your arguments, only to find that, upon close examination of the original context, the passage does not actually say what you are trying to get it to say. Context is of tantamount importance.

bq. …presume that the Bible approves of everything it records…

How often have I heard someone accuse God of being unjust or unrighteous because of something they read in the Bible? ((Especially if someone else did it.)) Just because God allowed someone in the Bible to get away with an unjust crime does not mean that He endorsed it. The Bible is pretty clear, in fact, that in the end, justice will be leveled to all men and crimes will be punished once and for all.

bq. …neglect to note literary devices…

Another biggie. Literacy devices populate the Bible just as much as any other literary work. ((More, in some places.))

bq. …assume divergent accounts are false…

Psychology has shown that three people can see the same event and report that event in three different ways. Does that mean that any or all of the accounts are false? Not necessarily, since different perspectives provide unique lessons.

bq. …forget that only the original text is inerrant…

This being the original Hebrew for the Old Testament and the original Greek for the New. Even Christians forget that sometimes, and find themselve embroiled in bitter battles over which English translation ((KJV, anyone?)) is inspired. ((Answer: none.))

bq. …assume round numbers are false…

Ah, yes. Don’t we see this even in our news media? Numbers are often rounded up or down for the sake of ease of reporting? In such cases, the numbers are not what is important; it is the events that actually took place that are. The same goes for the Bible. In the cases where the numbers are important, they are precise. In the cases where they aren’t, they’re rounded.

bq. …confuse general statements with universal statements…

General statements are subject to some debate. If A happens, then B generally happens as a result. With universal statements there is no room for debate. If A happens, then B will always, absolutely happen. A little bit of study and discernment helps elucidate which statements in the Bible are general ((e.g. Proverbs)) and which are universal. ((e.g. the Gospel))

bq. …and forget that later revelation supersedes earlier revelation.

Absolutely. That’s the beauty of “understanding the Bible in its entire context”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/?p=218. You get to see the progression of God’s relationship with mankind throughout time. Part of that progression is seeing how Christ’s work on the cross gave us new revelation that allows us greater access and deeper fellowship with the Father.

Great, thought-provoking thoughts, Will.

Disbelief At Differing Conclusions

One of the things that I think I find most irritating is when people make the assumption that, just because you hold a different viewpoint than them, you 1) must be mis- or underinformed; 2) must be spouting the standard ‘party’ line; and 3) must be unable to think for yourself, able only to blindly accept and regurgitate the viewpoint you’ve been taught all your life, since anyone who can and does think for themself would just _have_ to come to the same conclusion they hold. There is no room in these people’s minds that someone could look at the same evidence they have seen, experience the same events, or look at the same issues and still come to a _different_ conclusion about all those things. The same people who tell you to use your head and _think_ for a change are the same people who seem incapable of doing so themselves, because surely if they were to actually think about _this_ topic long enough, they would realize that people who think do often come up with different conclusions.

I see this phenomenon all the time in the world of politics and in the world of religion. One party touts their viewpoint and accuses the other party of being blind and of not thinking, so sure are they that if the other party were to think, they would have no choice but to embrace their own viewpoint. (How’s _that_ for a contradiction in terms, since so many of these people also do not believe in absolute truth?) Christians are continually accused of this by their antagonists. Part of this is because a lot of Christians _don’t_ think, _don’t_ exercise critical analysis, _do_ blindly accept answers they have never personally investigated. But part of this is simply unbelievers being unable to entertain the idea that anyone intelligent could possibly ever disagree with them. The latter we can do nothing about, but the former is something that anyone and everyone can continually work on. This is part of why I, personally, write, since the feedback I receive continually exposes me to new ideas and new questions. I, for one, believe that both faith and critical thinking _can_ co-exist, a notion at which many unbelievers scoff. Faith, by itself, can be just as blinding as rationality left to its own ends. I have seen people argue with incontrovertible scientific evidence, simply on the basis of their ‘faith’ (e.g. the Earth is flat, not round). Likewise, there are supernatural occurences that happen on a daily basis all around the world that science and rationality are wont to explain (e.g. keys that float through midair in someone’s home). This is why I believe that God asks us to first believe on Him, in faith, then provides us with further information, both about Himself and about this world around us and tells us that we should explore His creation.

Faith, without rationality, is dead; likewise, rationality, without faith, provides only half the answer. Only when the two meet and supplement one another can balance be found.

“Generally Speaking…”

bq. Don’t tell us over and over again how something’s a generalization and doesn’t apply to everyone. Duh. Some use of generalities are necessary with these topics. “#”:http://scatteredwords.com/meta/faq.php#q000379

Generalizations. We all use them. They’re a necessity inherent to the world of interpersonal communication. They facilitate conversation by allowing people to make their points easily and quickly by pointing to observable trends. Whole sections of social psychology textbooks (and others) are devoted to the concept of generalizations and stereotypes and their uses. It is probably impossible to get through an entire conversation without at some point using at least one generalization. It is simply the most efficient way to handle the vast amount of information at our disposal. We have to categorize it, mentally placing each bit into groupings with other bits of information that are very similar. We make mental estimates of behavioral trends based on our own experiences, knowledge, and observations. I doubt that there is anyone who readily has actual quantitative data on hand for every subject under the sun, who can point to such statistics and say definitively, “This is the way things are.” So, we generalize, a habit that is obviously limited by the availability of relevant data.

In theory, it is understood that generalizations do not speak to every person in every situation under every circumstance. Statistics themselves are only probabilities, based on past behavior, predicting what is most likely to occur in the future under similar circumstances. In actual practice, however, we find that the problem with the human makeup is that we often forget this margin of error. On the one hand, we make generalizations and begin to think that this applies to a far larger segment of the population than it actually does. This is, of course, somewhat necessary, as stated previously because if we were to point out every possible exception to the ‘rule’ all the time, no productive communication would ever occur. In many cases a compromise is reached by pointing out only those exceptions that are most relevant to the discussion at hand. But even then it is sometimes all too easy to dismiss them perfunctorily, whether because they don’t fit our generalized model or because we don’t like the implications or because they are too difficult to deal with or for some other reason.

On the other hand, some people hear generalizations that other people make and will either accept them as being all-encompassing or will quickly criticize it for not acknowledging all the exceptions. The former group may quickly grasp the point being made but then generalize said point too far, falling prey to their own naiveté. The latter group all too often _misses_ the point being made in their critical frenzy, falling prey to their own cynical rationality. A balance of both approaches is, as usual, to be found somewhere in the middle — recognizing the point of the generalization while acknowledging the fact that it does not speak to all people everywhere in all circumstances. The generalization is a shortcut of sorts, facilitating the cataloguing of societal trends. The naysayers are the ones who are either insecure or who merely like to argue with any philosophy not their own, or both. (Whether their points are valid or not is often irrelevant, as their approach to criticizing the generalization usually stonewalls further discussion.)

Finding this balance is a continual effort, requiring the mind to always be engaged at all times, sifting and filtering, striving to find the truth of the matter through open discourse and rigorous study. Critical thinking is a strong skill to possess because it allows us to first be able to make better and more accurate generalizations and then to be able to reason through other generalizations and critique them for their accuracy. It is a difficult task, to be sure, but one well worth undertaking.

Close-Mindedness, Open-Mindedness, and Meta-Systemic Thinking

Seen on a bumper sticker on the way home this evening:

bq. “The mind is like a parachute-It only works when it is open.”

I find it interesting that the general assumption is that a person is either open-minded or close-minded. It’s like you have to pick which one you want to be, and it had better not be close-minded (according to the edicts of the culture-at-large). For those who consider themselves open-minded, it’s the only way to view to the world. Open-mindedness is a breath of fresh air, allowing all men to be at peace with another because they can now accept one another without prejudice because all beliefs, all values, and all worldviews are equally correct, because there is no such thing as being right (or at least not 100% right) about anything, because it is the height of arrogance to ever propose to your fellow man that his beliefs might be in error or flawed in the slightest. The only blight upon this system are those they consider to be close-minded (a condition considered almost on a level with pedophilia, it seems), those who believe that their way is the only way, those who feel that they have no need for further analysis of their beliefs and worldviews.

Strangely enough, neither position recognizes, let alone acknowledges, the inconsistencies of their own stances. The ‘open-minded’ individual is tolerant of everything but the close-minded individual, making the open-minded individual close-minded in his very open-mindedness. The ‘close-minded’ individual is so self-assured of his correctness, of his ‘rightness’, that he is completely unwilling to acknowledge the idea that he may be mistaken in his logic or in his
conclusions and is thus unable to admit that the open-minded individual with whom he has been conversing may have a valid point. Both extremes are so confident and comfortable in their self-chosen philosophical stances that they rotely discard the entirety of the other’s arguments out of hand because it is seen as deriving from a philosophy which is completely counter to their own. Sadly, as a result, many great trues and compromises are lost to this practice, and
many great and wise men are reduced to foolishness and idiocy.

What both the open-minded individual and the close-minded individual seem to not understand is that their philosophical approaches are not simply an either/or choice but rather are two ends of a continuum. The continuum looks something like this:

Close-minded ————————– Open-minded

Every man, woman, and child alive fits somewhere along this line, and few populate the furthest extremes. Few people (if any) are so open-minded that they are willing to embrace any and every philosophy arbitrarily. And few (if any) are so close-minded that they reject every single philosophy that is not their own. Instead, everyone is open-minded about some things and close-minded about others.

I would propose that a specific mid-point be assigned to the above continuum.

Close-minded ————- Meta-System ————- Open-minded

This is my conceptualization of meta-systemic thinking. The prefix meta in this case means “beyond; transcending; more comprehensive; at a higher state of development.” When applied to thinking systems, meta opens up a whole new world of possibilities. It combines the best of close-minded and open-minded thinking while discarding the worst of both. Meta-systemic thinking would be known, in more familiar terms, as critical thinking, but in calling it meta-systemic thinking, certain implications and techniques are found that the definition of ‘critical thinking’ has lost (or never had).

Meta-systemic thinking approaches every philosophy and every worldview with a fresh eye, critiquing, anyalzing, breaking down, identifying assumptions, naming presuppositions, ferreting out flaws, and praising strengths. Meta-systemic thinking collates all that which is worth keeping and discards all that which is not. Meta-systemic thinking is continually reshaping the individual, being just open-minded enough to accept the possibility that a personal conclusion
or bit of logic may be flawed and in being willing to correct that flaw, even in accepting a bit of truth from a philosophy traditionally viewed as being wholly incorrect. It is also just close-minded enough to be willing to settle down to a firm stance once the individual believes that all available information has been gathered and processed and the chaff discarded. It is something of a tight-rope to walk, constantly struggling to balance on the edge of correctness while admitting the flaw of human error. Meta-systemic thinking acknowledges the existence of absolute truth and that that truth can be known by men. Meta-systemic thinking is an ongoing process, lifelong and continual, but overall it is a healthier and more robust approach to critical thought.

What I find so amazing is how few individuals are unwilling or unable to engage in meta-systemic thought, allowing instead personal hubris to interfere. Many a productive discussion has been derailed by the refusal to critically listen and think about the opposing argument and adjust accordingly. If only more people were willing to use their minds, rather than their feelings, to engage the world, we might find ourselves in a better place.

Devil’s Advocate

I have this ‘annoying’ little habit of always playing devil’s advocate…. well, maybe not always, but I do it quite often. Whenever someone takes one position in a conversation, I will frequently argue for the other side (fair representation, anyone?). Why do I do this, you ask? Good question, and I’m glad you asked that one. It’s not to be irksome, believe me, at least not intentionally (I suppose there could be some Freudian logic to it, somewhere, buried down deep, but I suspect not). Mostly, I think I do it in order to make sure that all aspects of the topicslashissue gets covered. Pull out the salient details. Avoid the groupthink effect and the like. Remove the blinders from ones eyes and open up the conversation to more possibilities. (And no, this is NOT necessarily being open-minded. Just covering all the bases. Because open minds tend to stay open (BAD!), and eventually I settle down on one position and stay there. Definitely ‘close-minded’ and ‘narrow.’ But also Biblical, I believe, at least to an extent. But that’s a topic for another post on another day.) I just like to make sure that everyone has thought of as many of the possibilities and explanations as possible. Experience empathy. Avoid judgmentalism.

And as a Christian, I believe it is my responsibility to encourage others to think more globally, and hence, more Christly. More compassionately, with love and grace. So consider this: consider that you may actually be wrong on a stance long enough to consider the issue more thoroughly. Challenge the status quo, and don’t take your position on an issue for granted, just because you have thought this way your whole life and so has your family.