Critical thinking, with understanding of cause and effect, is like seeing the future. Reasoning The Future.
If you understand that cereal gets soggy soon after adding milk, you can see this future long before getting the milk out of the fridge.
When you play chess, you can see and consider many possible futures before taking each action. There are infinitely more game pieces and possible moves on the board in real life, but the principle is the same. With enough information, like position and nature of game pieces, at least a few future moves are quite reliably predictable.
Walking through the grocery store, approaching the soda aisle, you could plan and decide to purchase Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo Inc, something else, or none of the above. You can give mega-corporations your money, or not. Unless maybe some Prozac lobotomy is working overtime, there is at least one moment where such potential futures are considered (foreseen) before taking action and writing one more step of your story.
This is challenging but largely achievable for small day-to-day decisions, as we have lots of first-hand information about our own lives and needs. We factor ‘freak’ events as truly rare enough to generally round out while finding our best actionable path. Seeing the future in this thoughtful way is infinitely more difficult when applied to macro-level questions, like decisions and actions made ‘in the name of’ hundreds of millions of people by ‘our’ governments, etc. There is not enough solid information available, plus plenty of disinformation, and it cannot be simplified enough to process without losing important nuances. Therefore actions based on such forethought are far less accurately reliable than those in our personal life.
Looking at the future in this way changes the future, simply because you’ve put more thought into creating it. If you have not considered the causes and effects of your future actions, then you have not thought about them, and have not peeked at even the most likely resulting futures you will inhabit.
In the movies, the hero must save the whole world. But in reality, we only have 100% control of our own lives: free will which is ethically and strategically limited only by the golden rule. We have the freedom to do anything without violating this equal freedom of others. Everyone can (and should) be a hero within their own domain for which they have 100% control.
Just as our individual actions currently add up to collective problems, our solutions will be similarly made up of individual actions. Giving Coke or Pepsi a dollar at a time helps fund their draining of water in developing countries, among other issues. Giving governments your votes or significant chunks of your annual wages helps to fuel cyclical wars, usury, and the corruption which gravitates to power.
Our alternative actions will cumulatively sculpt the world of solutions, outgrowing and replacing our world of problems. It takes a real hero to think critically and openly enough to escape the false dichotomies surrounding us. It takes a real hero to make choices beyond Coke vs Pepsi, beyond Democrat vs Republican, beyond the 0.5% vs the other 0.5%, beyond Military vs Military…
Since we can only have full control over our own lives, and our individual lives collectively create the world, being an individual hero is what real life heroes really look like. So please don’t wait for some sexy protagonist from the big screen to save the collective world for all of us in a single battle. Your hero’s journey is not to violate others’ autonomy while saving the whole world at once. Your hero’s journey is to lead by example trying to convert 100% of your domain into pieces of the solutions.
Please use your superpowers of thoughtful foresight to make more heroic decisions today, single steps to save your world which we all share. Play the Make-The-World-More-Awesome Game, and play to win!
Logical Fallacy Game: http://DontFallacy.Me/about/
…one collaborative tool to exercise some of our critical thinking skills,
improving our accuracy in reasoning the future.