[extropy-chat] Critical Thinking

Damien Sullivan phoenix at ugcs.caltech.edu
Thu Mar 9 18:59:27 UTC 2006

On Wed, Mar 08, 2006 at 06:27:28PM -0800, Samantha Atkins wrote:
> On Mar 8, 2006, at 5:46 AM, Lee Corbin wrote:

> > And some people are much more reluctant to admit mistakes than are others;
> > some are simply much better at "remaining confused" and not venturing an
> > opinion until they've had a great deal of exposure to a new claim or idea
> > than are others.
> Different people have different psychological habits and levels of  
> comfort forming an opinion.  Again, how does this say anything about  
> teachability?

"Habits" suggests something modifiable.  On the pessimistic side...
psychologists seem to have identified a Big 5 of personality traits, of fairly
high heritability (50% say, with the other 50% not necessarily being obviously
due to parental influence [Pinker, _The Blank Slate])

Extroversion, openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and neurosis.

If critical thinking abiilities, or potential, were largely a function of
one's openness ("I could be wrong") and conscientiousness ("I will check if I
am wrong") then teachability might be limited to bringing people up to their
potential, with a lot of people having fairly low potential.

If this were the case, then genetic screening (let alone engineering, but
screening is easier and sufficient) could alter the frequencies of these
traits, and thus of critical thinking.

-xx- Damien X-) 

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