Scott Adams (the Dilbert guy) offers a Voter’s Guide to Thinking that is so good I am going to reproduce it in its entirety:
- If you are comparing Plan A to Plan B, you might be doing a good job of thinking. But if you are comparing Plan A to an imaginary situation in which there are no tradeoffs in life, you are not thinking.
- If you see quotes taken out of context, and you form an opinion anyway, that’s probably not thinking. If you believe you need no further context because there is only one imaginable explanation for the meaning of the quotes, you might have a poor imagination. Sometimes a poor imagination feels a lot like knowledge, but it’s closer to the opposite.
- If a debate lends itself to estimates of cost (in money or human suffering) and you aren’t willing to offer an estimate in support of your opinion, you don’t yet have an opinion.
- If you are sure you know how a leader performed during his or her tenure, and you don’t know how someone else would have performed in the same situation, you don’t actually know anything. It just feels like you do.