Gone fishing – critical thinking matters

The kind folks from @UNDP_Danmark tweeted out this handy infographic on critical thinking last week:

critical thinking matters

Not exactly as compact as the original fish proverb. But these days, when people seem so primed to disagree with each other, maybe we do need to spell things out. Details make a story sing.

Critical thinking and frames

I’m trying to pay attention to how I frame stories these days. Because, as political linguist George Lakoff has been telling us for decades, the words we use to construct our frame can either draw people into the story or push them away.

If we have any hope of salvaging our suddenly fragile democracy, we need to choose frames that draw people in. So let’s see how we do with the fish tale, shall we?

Give someone a fish, and they eat for a day. But help them become self-sufficient by teaching them to fish and they can feed themselves, their families, and maybe even their communities. 

When we invest in maintaining the purity of our water, we get clean, healthy fish that nourish us. If we stop protecting our environment, our food supply becomes impure and we put our families’ health at risk.

When we invest in our educational system, we strengthen our economy. We provide greater opportunities for our students, who become our workforce. Investing in education makes people better able to make wise decisions to keep their families, their communities, and their country safe.

I wrote those words and they sound like complete bull to me.

Using “families” to justify anything implies that families are somehow the highest, most valuable unit of society. I don’t believe that for a second – it completely invalidates my own existence, and that of many other people as well. But that’s how red voters see the world.

“Protecting” resonates more with them than “regulating.” And the focus of that protecting – their families – resonates more than something more nebulous like “the environment ” or “future generations.” Investing in education will make students more effective bread-winners.

I hate that this stuff works. But we need to use what works.

So let’s not let them talk about rolling back environmental regulations. They’re eliminating protections.

And let’s not let them talk about “protecting” people with the anti-transgender bathroom laws. No, no – what they’re really doing is creating unnecessary regulations.

And while they’re fighting “fake media,” we need to do all we can to #ProtectTheTruth.

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