Posted: October 27th, 2022

Read film assigned, The Social Network in Netflix.

  

Reflection, Assignment #1 (10 pts.)

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Read film assigned, The Social Network in Netflix.

Objective

To relate the material in Chapter One, “Thinking,” to the assigned film(s). Your paper (3-4 pages) will consist of three sections as follows. 

Introduction Paragraph (2 pts.)

Briefly summarize the film in five sentences or less.

Thinking (6 pts.)

What was Mark’s short term and long term goal in creating Facesmash?

In establishing Facesmash, was Mark thinking critically? Why or why not?

How might Mark have analyzed his decision?

Was Mark being creative according to our text?

How would you have gone about making a plan for Facesmash?

What is thinking?

Conclusion Paragraph (2 pts.)

Briefly explain how the film relates to the text in Chapter One, Thinking. 

Follow MLA format in writing your paper. Include a reference page and a cover page.

Look for ‘MLA style guide’ on the Internet for rules and examples.

Your grade will be based on clarity, specificity and how well you establish connections to the text in ChapterOne.

Reflection, Assignment #1 (10 pts.)

Read film assigned, The Social Network in Netflix.

Objective

To relate the material in Chapter One, “Thinking,” to the assigned film(s). Your paper (3-4 pages) will consist of three sections as follows.

Introduction Paragraph (2 pts.)

Briefly summarize the film in five sentences or less.

Thinking (6 pts.)

What was Mark’s short term and long term goal in creating Facesmash?

In establishing Facesmash, was Mark thinking critically? Why or why not?

How might Mark have analyzed his decision?

Was Mark being creative according to our text?

How would you have gone about making a plan for Facesmash?

What is thinking?

Conclusion Paragraph (2 pts.)

Briefly explain how the film relates to the text in Chapter One, Thinking.

Follow MLA format in writing your paper. Include a reference page and a cover page.

Look for ‘MLA style guide’ on the Internet for rules and examples.

Your grade will be based on clarity, specificity and how well you establish connections to the text in ChapterOne.

Chapter 1

Chuck Thomas Close (born July 5, 1940, Monroe, Washington) is an American painter and photographer who achieved fame as a photorealist through his massive-scale portraits. How does this self-portrait change when viewed from a distance versus close up? The writer Oscar Wilde once said, “The only normal people are the ones you don’t know well.” How do people look different from a distance versus close up?

The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA/Art Resource, NY

© 2019 Cengage

Thinking is the extraordinary process we use every waking moment to make sense of our world and our lives. Successful thinking enables us to solve the problems we are continually confronted with, to make intelligent decisions, and to achieve the goals that give our lives purpose and fulfillment. It is an activity that is crucial for living in a meaningful way.

This book is designed to help you understand the complex, incredible process of thinking. You might think of this text as a map to guide you in exploring the way your mind operates. This book is also founded on the conviction that you can improve your thinking abilities by carefully examining your thinking process and working systematically through challenging activities. Thinking is an active process, and you learn to do it better by becoming aware of and actually using the thought process, not simply by reading about it. By participating in the thinking activities contained in the text and applying these ideas to your own experiences, you will find that your thinking—and language—abilities become sharper and more powerful.

College provides you with a unique opportunity to develop your mind in the fullest sense. Entering college initiates you into a community of people dedicated to learning, and each discipline, or subject area, represents an organized effort to understand some significant dimension of human experience. As you are introduced to various disciplines, you learn new ways to understand the world, and you elevate your consciousness as a result. This book, in conjunction with the other courses in your college experience, will help you become an “educated thinker,” expanding your mind and developing your sensibilities.

Achieving the goal of becoming an educated thinker involves two core processes that are the mainsprings of our thoughts and actions: 

thinking critically

 and 

thinking creatively

. The process of thinking critically involves thinking for ourselves by carefully examining the way that we make sense of the world. Taking this approach to living is one of the most satisfying aspects of being a mature human being.

We are able to think critically because of our natural human ability to reflect—to think back on what we are thinking, doing, or feeling. By carefully thinking back on our thinking, we are able to figure out how our thinking operates and thus learn to do it more effectively. In this book, we will systematically explore the many dimensions of the way our minds work, providing the opportunity to deepen our understanding of the thinking process and stimulating us to become more effective thinkers.

Of course, carefully examining the ideas produced by the thinking process assumes that ideas exist that are worth examining. We produce such ideas by thinking creatively.

1-1Living an “Examined” Life

Over 2,500 years ago, the Greek philosopher Socrates cautioned, “The unexamined life is not worth living,” underscoring the insight that when we don’t make use of our distinctive human capacity to think deeply and act intelligently, our lives have diminished meaning. In a warning that is at least as relevant today as it was when he first spoke it, Socrates cautioned his fellow citizens of Athens:

“You, my friend—a citizen of the great and mighty and wise city of Athens—are you not ashamed of heaping up the greatest amount of money and honor and reputation, and caring so little about wisdom and truth and the greatest improvement of the soul, which you never regard or heed at all?”

Today’s world is a complex and challenging place in which to live. The accelerated pace at which many people live often makes them feel as though they are rushing from deadline to deadline, skating on the surface of life instead of exploring its deeper meanings. What is the purpose of your life? Who are you, and who do you want to become? These are essential questions that form the core of life, and yet the velocity of our lives discourages us from even posing these questions, much less trying to answer them.

Your efforts to become thoughtful and reflective, to explore the nature of yourself and the meaning of your life, are made even more difficult by the unthinking world in which we live. Consider all of the foolish opinions, thoughtless decisions, confused communication, destructive behavior, and self-absorbed, thoughtless people whom you have to deal with each day. Reflect on the number of times you have scratched your head and wondered, “What was that person thinking?” And how many times have you asked yourself, “What was I thinking?” The disturbing truth is that many people don’t think very well; they are not making use of their potential to think clearly and effectively.

Every day you encounter a series of choices, forks in your life path that have the cumulative effect of defining you as a person. In thinking about these choices, you may discover that habitual patterns occur in your life and rarely change. If you find that your life comprises a collection of similar activities and routines, don’t despair; this is typical, not unusual. However, it may be an indication that you are not living your life in the most thoughtful fashion possible, that your choices have become automatic, and that your experiences are fixed in certain “ruts.” If this is the case, it may be time to reflect on your life, reevaluate the choices you are making, and consider living in a more reflective and creative fashion.

You are an artist, creating your life portrait, and your paints and brush strokes are the choices you make each day. This metaphor provides you with a way to think about your personal development and underscores your responsibility for making the most intelligent decisions possible.

You have the capacity to create a richly fulfilling life, but you must develop and make full use of your thinking potential to do so. By becoming a true educated thinker, you will have the tools to unlock the mysteries of yourself and meet the challenges of the world.

Thinking Critically About Visuals

The Mystery of the Mind and Scientific Developments

These images depict different understandings of the human mind. The first image represents phrenology, a science popular in the 1800s but now debunked, that claimed personality traits and dispositions could be determined by the size and shape of various parts of the skull. The second is a functional magnetic resonance image (fMRI), a modern neuroscientific technology used to measure blood flow in the brain in order to determine changes in activity that are used to infer what an individual is thinking about.

Compare the two images to identify what visual qualities suggest trustworthiness. Does the phrenology diagram or the fMRI seem more accurate? Why? How might a critical thinking student from the 1800s have viewed these images? What about a student in 2100? Do scientific facts ever

Thinking Critically About Visuals

You Are the Artist of Your Life

In what ways does this metaphor help you understand your personal development? In what ways does it highlight the role of personal responsibility in your life? Although Chuck Close suffered a catastrophic spinal artery collapse in 1988 that left him severely paralyzed, he has continued to paint and produce work that remains sought after by museums and collectors. What life lessons can we learn from the way he has responded to adversity? We all have our own unique challenges to meet in order to find our life path, just as Chuck Close has overcome physical disability to achieve great success. What choices will you have to make in order to reach your full potential as a person?

1-2A Roadmap to Your Mind

This book is designed to help you become an educated thinker by providing you with many opportunities to use your mind in ways that will strengthen and elevate your thinking abilities. Many of these abilities—such as working toward your goals, solving problems, or making intelligent decisions—will already be familiar to you. Others, such as understanding the conceptualization process or constructing rigorous extended arguments, may be less so. But whatever your degree of familiarity, and no matter what your level of expertise, you can always improve your thinking abilities, and doing so will enrich your life in countless ways. Here is a brief preview of the thinking abilities you will be studying in this book—the very same abilities that you will be using to think with as you study them!

·

Establishing and achieving your goals (

Chapter 1)

· Becoming an intelligent and effective decision maker (Chapter 1)

· Becoming a confident and productive creative thinker (Chapter 1)

· Becoming an independent, informed, and open-minded critical thinker (

Chapter 2

)

· Learning to analyze and discuss complex, controversial ideas in an organized fashion (Chapter 2)

· Becoming a powerful and successful problem solver (

Chapter 3

)

· Becoming familiar with the perceptual “lenses” through which you view the world, and understanding the way these lenses shape and influence your entire experience (

Chapter 4

)

· Learning to develop informed, well-supported beliefs and achieve authentic knowledge of important issues (

Chapter 5

)

· Learning to critically analyze information and images presented in the media, the Internet, and popular culture (Chapter 5)

· Developing your ability to understand and use language effectively in order to express your ideas clearly and coherently (

Chapter 6

)

· Learning to form and apply concepts in order to understand the world in a clear, sophisticated way (

Chapter 7

)

· Developing your ability to relate and organize concepts in complex thinking patterns (

Chapter 8

)

· Learning to think critically about ethical issues and moral beliefs (

Chapter 9

)

· Learning to construct logically valid and compelling arguments to support your point of view (

Chapter 10

)

· Learning to evaluate the soundness of deductive and inductive arguments and detect illogical ways of thinking (“fallacies”) (

Chapters 10

11

)

· Developing your ability to make enlightened choices and work toward creating a meaningful and fulfilling life (

Chapter 12

)

Of course, these abilities do not operate in isolation from one another; instead, they work together in complex patterns and relationships. For example, in the remainder of this first chapter, we’re going to explore three core areas that are central to being an accomplished thinker and living a successful, fulfilling life:

· Establishing and achieving your goals

· Becoming an intelligent and effective decision maker

· Becoming a confident and productive creative thinker

Achieving your full potential in these areas involves all of the other thinking abilities that you will be studying in this book. In this chapter, you will be laying the foundation for achieving your goals, making effective decisions, and learning to think creatively. However, your abilities in these areas will continue to grow as you develop and practice the full range of your thinking capabilities using this text.

1-3Working Toward Goals

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, / Or what’s a heaven for?”

— Robert Browning

My future career goal is to become a professional photographer, working for National Geographic Magazine and traveling around the world. I originally had different dreams, but gradually drifted away from them and lost interest. Then I enrolled in a photography course and loved it. I couldn’t wait until the weekend was over to attend class on Monday or to begin my next class project—reactions that were really quite unusual for me! Not everyone is certain at my age about what they would like to become, and I think it is important to discover a career you will enjoy because you are going to spend the rest of your life doing it. I have many doubts, as I think everyone does. Am I good enough? The main thing I fear is rejection, people not liking my work, a possibility that is unavoidable in life. There is so much competition in this world that sometimes when you see someone better at what you do, you can feel inadequate. These problems and obstacles that interfere with my goals will have to be overcome. Rejection will have to be accepted and looked at as a learning experience, and competition will have to be used as an incentive for me to work at my highest level. But through it all, if you don’t have any fears, then what do you have? Lacking competition and the possibility of rejection, there is no challenge to life.

As revealed in this student passage, goals have extremely important functions, organizing your thinking and giving your life order and direction. Whether you are preparing food, preparing for an exam, or preparing for a career, goals suggest courses of action and influence your decisions. By performing these functions, goals contribute meaning to your life. They give you something to aim for and lead to a sense of accomplishment when you reach them, like the satisfaction you may have felt when you graduated from high school or entered college. Your thinking abilities enable you first to identify what your goals are, and then to plan how to reach these goals.

Most of your behavior has a purpose or purposes, a goal or goals, that you are trying to reach. You can begin to discover the goals of your actions by asking the question “Why?” about what you are doing or thinking. For example, answer the following question as specifically as you can: Why did you enroll in college?

This question may have stimulated any number of responses:

· Because I want to pursue a fulfilling career.

· Because all of my friends enrolled in college.

· Because my parents insisted that I go to college in order to get a good job.

Whatever your response, it reveals at least one of your goals in attending college.

Using your response to the question “Why did you enroll in college?” as a starting point, try to discover part of your goal pattern by asking a series of “Why” questions. After each response, ask “Why?” again. (For example: Why did you enroll in college? “Because I want to pursue a fulfilling career.” Why do you want to pursue a fulfilling career? “Because.…”) Try to give thoughtful and specific answers.

As you may have found in completing the activity, this “child’s game” of repeatedly asking “Why?” begins to reveal the network of goals that structure your experience and leads you to progressively more profound questions regarding your basic goals in life, such as “Why do I want to be successful?” or “Why do I want a happy and fulfilling life?” These are complex issues that require thorough and ongoing exploration. A first step in this direction is to examine the way your mind works to achieve your goals, which is the “goal” of this section. If you can understand the way your mind functions when you think effectively, then you can use this knowledge to improve your thinking abilities. This in turn will enable you to deal more effectively with new situations you encounter. To begin this process, think about an important goal you have achieved in your life, and then complete 

Thinking Activity

1.

1

. Thinking Activities are designed to stimulate your thinking process and provide an opportunity to express your ideas about important topics. By sharing these ideas with your teacher and other members of the class, you are not only expanding your own thinking, but also expanding theirs. Each student in the class has a wealth of experiences and insights to offer to the class community.

1-3aAchieving Short-Term Goals

By examining your responses to Thinking Activity 1.1, you can see that thinking effectively plays a crucial role in helping you to achieve your goals by enabling you to perform two distinct, interrelated activities:

1. Identifying the appropriate goals

2.

Devising effective plans and strategies to achieve your goals

You are involved in this goal-seeking process in every aspect of your daily life. Some of the goals you seek to achieve are more immediate (short-term) than others, such as planning your activities for the day or organizing your activities for an upcoming test.

Although achieving these short-term goals seems as though it ought to be a manageable process, the truth is your efforts probably meet with varying degrees of success. You may not always achieve your daily goals, and you might occasionally find yourself inadequately prepared for a test. By improving your mastery of the goal-seeking process, you should be able to improve the quality of every area of your life. Let’s explore how to do this.

Identify five short-term goals you would like to achieve in the next week. Now rank these goals in order of importance, ranging from the goals that are most essential for you to achieve to those that are less significant.

Once this process of identifying and ranking your goals is complete, you can then focus on devising effective plans and strategies to achieve them. To complete this stage of the goal-seeking process, select the goal that you ranked 1 or 2, and then list all of the steps in the order in which they need to be taken to achieve your goal successfully. After completing this list, estimate how much time each step will take and plan the step in your daily/weekly schedule. For example, if your goal is to prepare for a quiz in biology, your steps might include the following:

Goal: Prepare for Biology Quiz in 2 Days

Steps to be taken

Time involved

Schedule

1.

Photocopy the notes for the class I missed last week

20 minutes

After next class

2.

Review reading assignments and class notes

2 hours

Tonight

3.

Make a summary review sheet

1 hour

Tomorrow night

4.

Study the review sheet quiz

30 minutes

Right before quiz

Although this method may seem a little mechanical the first few times you use it, it will soon integrate into your thinking processes and become a natural and automatic approach to achieving your daily goals. Much of our failure to achieve our short-term goals is because that we skip one or more of the steps in this process. Common thinking errors when seeking our goals include the following:

· We neglect to explicitly identify important goals.

· We concentrate on less important goals first, leaving insufficient time to work on more important goals.

·

We don’t identify all of the steps required to achieve our goals, or we approach them in the wrong order.

· We underestimate the time each step will take and/or fail to plan the steps in our schedule.

1-3bAchieving Long-Term Goals

Identifying immediate or “short-term” goals tends to be a fairly simple procedure. Identifying appropriate “long-term” goals is a much more complex and challenging process: career aims, plans for marriage, paying for children’s college, goals for personal development. Think, for example, about the people you know who have full-time jobs. How many of these people get up in the morning excited and looking forward to going to work that day? Probably not many. Unfortunately, many people have not been successful in identifying the most appropriate career goals for themselves—goals that reflect their true interests and talents.

How do you identify the most appropriate long-term goals for yourself? To begin, you need to develop an in-depth understanding of yourself: your talents, your interests, the things that stimulate you and bring you satisfaction. You also need to discover what your possibilities are, either through research or actual experience. Of course, your goals do not necessarily remain the same throughout your life. It is unlikely that the goals you had as an eight-year-old are the ones you have now. As you grow and mature, it is natural for your goals to change and evolve as well. The key point is that you should keep examining your goals to make sure that they reflect your own thinking and current interests.

Research studies have shown that high-achieving people are able to envision a detailed, three-dimensional picture of their future in which their goals and aspirations are clearly inscribed. In addition, they are able to construct a mental plan that includes the sequence of steps they will have to take, the amount of time each step will involve, and strategies for overcoming the obstacles they will likely encounter. Such realistic and compelling concepts of the future enable these people to make sacrifices in the present to achieve their long-term goals. Of course, they may modify these goals as circumstances change and they acquire more information, but they retain a well-defined, flexible plan that charts their life course.

Research also reveals that people who are low achievers tend to live in the present and the past. Their concepts of the future are vague and ill defined: “I want to be happy” or “I want a high-paying job.” This unclear concept of the future makes it difficult for them to identify the most appropriate goals for themselves, to devise effective strategies for achieving these goals, and to make the necessary sacrifices in the present that will ensure that the future becomes a reality. For example, imagine that you are faced with the choice of studying for an exam or participating in a social activity. What would you do? If you are focusing mainly on the present rather than the future, then the temptation to go out with your friends may be too strong. But if you see this exam as connected to a future that is real and extremely important, then you are better equipped to sacrifice a momentary pleasant time for your future happiness.

1-4Images, Decision Making, and Thinking About Visual Information

Journalists, scientists, website creators, lawyers, advertisers—a staggering variety of professionals rely on visuals to communicate. From college and military recruitment brochures to consumer advertising to a company’s annual reports, images work in both subtle and overt ways to persuade us to do, believe, or buy something. As a critical thinker, you must pay attention to the ways in which images can inspire, support, and reflect your beliefs and your goals.

Each chapter of Thinking Critically includes a feature that challenges you to apply new thinking strategies to pairs of images that provoke the viewer into finding connections, confronting beliefs, and questioning evidence. This feature is called “Thinking Critically About Visuals.”

1-4aImages, Perceiving, and Thinking

Whether they are recording events as they happen or reflecting imaginatively on their personal experiences, visual artists in all media (painters, cartoonists, graphic artists, photographers, and others) are fundamentally aware that they are communicating—that, even without words, their images will tell a story, make an argument, show a process, or provide information. For you to think critically about the many kinds of information you encounter in your personal, academic, and professional lives, you need to understand how these images are created and the purposes they serve.

Images and Learning

In college, you will often be asked to present information in a visual manner. Classes in the sciences and social sciences require you to present numerical data in the form of charts, graphs, and maps. In the visual arts and humanities, you may be asked to analyze a painting’s message and style or to describe a film director’s approach to setting a scene. As you read your textbooks, study your instructor’s PowerPoint slides, and conduct your own research, be sure that you understand the point of visual information and how it complements written information. In addition, be sure to ask your instructor for each of your classes how to locate, correctly cite, and usefully include images in your own essays and research papers.

Images, Creative Thinking, and Problem Solving

Creative thinking teaches us that information can be experienced and communicated in many different ways. When you use any of the creative or critical approaches to problem solving discussed in this book, try to incorporate visual as well as verbal descriptions and information. You could collect images from magazines, books, and online sources and print them out or scan them electronically to create a kind of visual “mind map.” Or you could look online at sites such as the National Archives, Flickr, and Google Images, all of which allow you to search for images using key words related to your task.

Images and “Reading”

As you come across visual images to use in your essays, reports, and arguments, remember that the content of an image—just like the content of a text—comprises elements that work together to convey a message. Some of these elements are similar to those you consider when evaluating a piece of writing: setting, point of view, relationships between characters, and perspective (objective or subjective). Other elements are specifically visual: how color is used, how images are manipulated in a graphics editor such as Adobe Photoshop, how images are cropped (or cut), and how images are arranged on a page or screen. Also important, of course, is how the text that accompanies images describes and contextualizes what you are seeing; this text, called a caption, should also be a part of your critical interpretation of visual evidence.

Images and Evaluation

When you have gathered images that relate to your topic, you can use questions of fact, interpretation, analysis, synthesis, evaluation, and application (

Carefully Exploring Situations with Questions

) to help you sort through the visuals and select those that best support your purpose in writing. For example, a witty or satirical editorial cartoon about the federal response to Hurricane Sandy might be appropriate for an argument essay in which you analyze the political impact of that disaster, but for a paper about the storm’s long-term environmental effects, you would be better served by a map showing the loss of land or a satellite photograph showing the extent of flood damage.

The Thinking Critically About Visuals activity contains two photographs of a very different kind of human disaster—the tragedy of human trafficking. Both types of disasters have devastating consequences for innocent people caught up in these events.

Thinking Critically About Visuals

“Human Sex Trafficking”

Human trafficking for sexual purposes is an international evil involving an estimated 25 million women and children a year, a $35 billion industry that reaches to every corner of the world. The United States is not immune to this evil: an estimated 45,000–50,000 women and children are caught in the snare of human trafficking every year. Of those victims who are found and released, 83% are American citizens. So the idea that sex trafficking “only happens in other countries” is not accurate. Consider this photograph: What approach is being used to dramatize to the public the evil of human trafficking? What makes this photograph arresting? Do you find this approach effective? Why or why not? If you were asked to create an ad to dramatize human trafficking, how would you go about it?

This photograph of young girls lined up and dressed in the same outfits tells the story of human trafficking in a different way. From what perspective is this photograph taken? What makes this perspective especially compelling? In what ways, and in what contexts, can visual images tell stories from the perspective of someone other than the photographer? What story does this photograph tell you? How does this image compare with the image on the previous page? Does the combined message and effect of these two images influence your thinking about human trafficking? In what way?

1-4bThinking Passage: The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Born Malcolm Little on May 19, 1925, in Omaha, Nebraska, the son of an activist Baptist preacher, Malcolm X saw racial injustice and violence from a very young age. His father, Earl Little, was outspoken in his support for the Black Nationalist leader Marcus Garvey; as a result, the family was the target of harassment and was forced to move frequently. In 1931, Earl Little’s body was found on the town’s trolley tracks. Although the local police dismissed it as an accident, Earl Little’s death was believed to have been a murder committed by white supremacists. Malcolm dropped out of high school after a teacher’s contemptuous discouragement of his ambitions to become a lawyer. For the next several years, he moved between Boston and New York, becoming profitably involved in various criminal activities. After being convicted of burglary in Boston, he was sentenced to prison. There he began writing letters to former friends and various government officials. His frustration in trying to express his ideas led him to a course of self-education, described in the following excerpt from The Autobiography of Malcolm X. After his release from prison, Malcolm converted to Islam and rose to prominence in the Nation of Islam. A pilgrimage he made to Saudi Arabia led him to begin working toward healing and reconciliation for Americans of all races. Unfortunately, the enemies he had made and the fears he had provoked did not leave Malcolm X much time to share this message. Three assassins gunned him down as he spoke at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem on February 15, 1965.

From The Autobiography of Malcolm X

by Malcolm X, with Alex Haley

Many who today hear me somewhere in person, or on television, or those who read something I’ve said, will think I went to school far beyond the eighth grade. This impression is due entirely to my prison studies.

It had really begun back in the Charlestown Prison, when Bimbi first made me feel envy of his stock of knowledge. Bimbi had always taken charge of any conversation he was in, and I had tried to emulate him. But every book I picked up had few sentences which didn’t contain anywhere from one to nearly all of the words that might as well have been in Chinese. When I just skipped those words, of course, I really ended up with little idea of what the book said. So I had come to the Norfolk Prison Colony still going through only book-reading motions. Pretty soon, I would have quit even these motions, unless I had received the motivation that I did.

I saw that the best thing I could do was get hold of a dictionary—to study, to learn some words. I was lucky enough to reason also that I should try to improve my penmanship. It was sad. I couldn’t even write in a straight line. It was both ideas together that moved me to request a dictionary along with some tablets and pencils from the Norfolk Prison Colony school.

I spent two days just riffling uncertainly through the dictionary’s pages. I’d never realized so many words existed! I didn’t know which words I needed to learn. Finally, just to start some kind of action, I began copying. In my slow, painstaking, ragged handwriting, I copied into my tablet everything printed on that first page, down to the punctuation marks. I believe it took me a day. Then, aloud, I read back, to myself, everything I’d written on the tablet. Over and over, aloud, to myself, I read my own handwriting.

I woke up the next morning, thinking about those words—immensely proud to realize that not only had I written so much at one time, but I’d written words that I never knew were in the world. Moreover, with a little effort, I also could remember what many of these words meant. I reviewed the words whose meanings I didn’t remember.…

I was so fascinated that I went on—I copied the dictionary’s next page. And the same experience came when I studied that. With every succeeding page, I also learned of people and places and events from history…. That was the way I started copying what eventually became the entire dictionary…. Between what I wrote in my tablet, and writing letters, during the rest of my time in prison I would guess I wrote a million words. I suppose it was inevitable that as my word-base broadened, I could for the first time pick up a book and read and now begin to understand what the book was saying….

1-5An Organized Approach to Making Decisions

Identifying and reaching the goals in our lives involves making informed, intelligent decisions. Many of the decisions we make are sound and thoughtful, but we may also find that some of the decisions we make turn out poorly, undermining our efforts to achieve the things we most want in life. Many of our poor decisions involve relatively minor issues—for example, selecting an unappealing dish in a restaurant, agreeing to go on a blind date, taking a course that does not meet our expectations. Although these decisions may result in unpleasant consequences, the discomfort is neither life-threatening nor long-lasting (although a disappointing course may seem to last forever!). However, many more significant decisions occur in our lives in which poor choices can result in considerably more damaging and far-reaching consequences. For example, one reason that the current divorce rate in the United States stands at approximately 50 percent (for first marriages) is the poor decisions people make before or after the vows “till death do us part.” Similarly, the fact that many employed adults wake up in the morning unhappy about going to their jobs, anxiously waiting for the end of the day and the conclusion of the week so they are free to do what they really want to do, suggests that somewhere along the line they made poor career decisions, or they felt trapped by circumstances they couldn’t control. Our jobs should be much more than a way to earn a paycheck—they should be vehicles for using our professional skills, opportunities for expressing our creative talents, stimulants of our personal growth and intellectual development, and experiences that provide us with feelings of fulfillment and self-esteem. In the final analysis, our careers are central elements of our lives and important dimensions of our life portraits. Our career decision is one that we’d better try to get right!

An important part of becoming an educated thinker is learning to make effective decisions. Let’s explore this process more closely.

Thinking Activity 1.3

Analyzing a Previous Decision

1. Think back on an important decision you made that turned out well. Describe the experience as specifically as possible.

2. Reconstruct the reasoning process that you used to make your decision. Did you:

· Clearly define the decision to be made and the related issues?

· Consider various choices and anticipate the consequences of these various choices?

· Gather additional information to help in your analysis?

· Evaluate the various pros and cons of different courses of action?

·

Use a chart or diagram to aid in your deliberations?

· Create a specific plan of action to implement your ideas?

· Periodically review your decision to make necessary adjustments?

As you reflected on the successful decision you were writing about in 

Thinking Activity 1.3

, you probably noticed your mind working in a more or less systematic way as you thought through the decision situation. Of course, we often make important decisions with less thoughtful analysis, acting impulsively or relying on our “intuition.” Sometimes these decisions work out well, but often they don’t, and we are forced to live with the consequences of these mistaken choices. People who approach decision situations thoughtfully and analytically tend to be more successful decision makers than people who don’t. Naturally, there are no guarantees that a careful analysis will lead to a successful result—often, we encounter too many unknown elements and factors beyond our control. But we can certainly improve our success rate as well as our speed by becoming more knowledgeable about the decision-making process. Expert decision makers can typically make quick, accurate decisions based on intuitions that are informed, not merely impulsive. As with most complex abilities in life, however, we need to learn to “walk” before we can “run,” so let’s explore a versatile and effective approach for making decisions.

The decision-making approach we will be using consists of five steps. As you gradually master these steps, they will become integrated into your way of thinking, and you will be able to apply them in a natural and flexible way.

Step 1: Define the Decision Clearly

This seems like an obvious step, but a lot of decision making goes wrong at the starting point. For example, imagine that you decide that you want to have a “more active social life.” The problem with this characterization of your decision is it defines the situation too generally and therefore doesn’t give any clear direction for your analysis. Do you want to develop an intimate, romantic relationship? Do you want to cultivate more close friendships? Do you want to engage in more social activities? Do you want to meet new people? In short, the decision to have a “more active social life” can be defined more clearly in many ways. The more specific your definition of the decision to be made, the clearer your analysis will be and the greater the likelihood of success.

STRATEGY: Write a one-page analysis that articulates your decision-making situation as clearly and specifically as possible.

Step 2: Consider All the Possible Choices

Successful decision makers explore all of the possible choices in their situation, not simply the obvious ones. In fact, the less obvious choices often turn out to be the most effective ones. For example, a student in a recent class of mine couldn’t decide whether he should major in accounting or business management. In discussing his situation with other members of the class, he revealed that his real interest was in the area of graphic design and illustration. Although he was very talented, he considered this to be only a hobby, not a possible career choice. Class members pointed out to him that this might turn out to be his best career choice, but he first needed to see it as a possibility.

STRATEGY: List as many possible choices for your situation as you can, both obvious and not obvious. Ask other people for additional suggestions, and don’t censor or prejudge any ideas.

Step 3: Gather All Relevant Information and Evaluate the Pros and Cons of Each Possible Choice

In many cases, you may lack sufficient information to make an informed choice regarding a challenging, complex decision. Unfortunately, this doesn’t prevent people from plunging ahead anyway, making a decision that is often more a gamble than an informed choice. Instead of this questionable approach, it makes much more sense to seek out the information you need in order to determine which of the choices you identified has the best chance for success. For example, in the case of the student mentioned in 

Step 2

, he would need to have important information before determining whether he should consider a career in graphic design and illustration, including asking, What are the specific careers within this general field? What sort of academic preparation and experience are required for the various careers? What are the prospects for employment in these areas, and how well do they pay?

STRATEGY: For each possible choice that you identified, create questions regarding information you need to find out, and then locate that information.

In addition to locating all relevant information, each of the possible choices you identified has certain advantages and disadvantages, and it is essential that you analyze these pros and cons in an organized fashion. For example, in the case of the student described earlier, the choice of pursuing a career in accounting may have advantages such as ready employment opportunities, the flexibility of working in many different situations and geographical locations, moderate to high income expectations, and job security. On the other hand, disadvantages might include the fact that accounting may not reflect a deep and abiding interest for the student, he might lose interest over time, or the career might not result in the personal challenge and fulfillment that he seeks.

STRATEGY: Using a format similar to the one outlined in the following worksheet, analyze the pros and cons of each of your possible choices.

Define the decision:

1.

2.

Possible choices

Information needed

Pros

Cons

(and so on)

Step 4: Select the Choice That Seems to Best Meet the Needs of the Situation

The first three steps of this approach are designed to help you analyze your decision situation: to clearly define the decision, generate possible choices, gather relevant information, and evaluate the pros and cons of the choices you identified. In this fourth step, you must attempt to synthesize all that you have learned, weaving together all of the various threads into a conclusion that you believe to be your “best” choice. How do you do this? There is no one simple way to identify your “best” choice, but some useful strategies are available for guiding your deliberations.

STRATEGY: Identify and prioritize the goals of your decision situation and determine which of your choices best meets these goals. This process will probably involve reviewing and perhaps refining your definition of the decision situation. For example, in the case of the student whom we have been considering, some goals might include choosing a career that will

1. provide financial security.

2. provide personal fulfillment.

3. make use of special talents.

4. offer plentiful opportunities and job security.

Once identified, the goals can be ranked in order of their priority, which will then suggest what the “best” choice will be. For example, if the student ranks goals (a) and (d) at the top of the list, then a choice of accounting or business administration might make sense. On the other hand, if the student ranks goals (b) and (c) at the top, then pursuing a career in graphic design and illustration might be the best selection.

STRATEGY: Anticipate the consequences of each choice by “preliving” the choices. Another helpful strategy for deciding on the best choice is to project yourself into the future, imagining as realistically as you can the consequences of each possible choice. As with previous strategies, this process is aided by writing down your thoughts and discussing them with others.

Step 5: Implement a Plan of Action and Then Monitor the Results, Making Necessary Adjustments

Once you have selected what you consider your best choice, you need to develop and implement a specific, concrete plan of action. As was noted in the section on short-term goals, the more specific and concrete your plan of action, the greater the likelihood of success. For example, if the student in the case we have been considering decides to pursue a career in graphic design and illustration, his plan should include reviewing the major that best meets his needs, discussing his situation with students and faculty in that department, planning the courses he will be taking, and perhaps speaking to people in the field.

Method for Making Decisions

1. Step 1

Define the decision clearly.

2. Step 2

Consider all the possible choices.

3. Step 3

Gather all relevant information and evaluate the pros and cons of each possible choice.

4. Step 4

Select the choice that seems to best meet the needs of the situation.

5. Step 5

Implement a plan of action and then monitor the results, making necessary adjustments.

STRATEGY: Create a schedule that details the steps you will be taking to implement your decision and a timeline for taking these steps.

Of course, your plan is merely a starting point for implementing your decision. As you actually begin taking the steps in your plan, you will likely discover that changes and adjustments need to be made. In some cases, you may find that, based on new information, the choice you selected seems to be the wrong one. For example, as the student we have been discussing takes courses in graphic design and illustration, he may find that his interest in the field is not as serious as he thought and that, although he likes this area as a hobby, he does not want it to be his life work. In this case, he should return to considering his other choices and perhaps add additional choices that he did not consider before.

STRATEGY: After implementing your choice, evaluate its success by identifying what’s working and what isn’t, and make the necessary adjustments to improve the situation.

1-6Living Creatively

Sometimes students become discouraged about their lives, concluding that their destinies are shaped by forces beyond their control. Although difficult circumstances do hamper our striving for success, this fatalistic sentiment can also reflect a passivity that is the opposite of thinking critically. As a critical thinker, you should be confident that you can shape the person you want to become through insightful understanding and intelligent choices.

In working with this book, you will develop the abilities and attitudes needed to become an educated thinker and a successful person. You will also integrate these goals into a larger context, exploring how to live a life that is creative, professionally successful, and personally fulfilling. By using both your creative and your critical thinking abilities, you can develop informed beliefs and an enlightened life philosophy. In the final analysis, the person who looks back at you in the mirror is the person you have created.

1-6a“Can I Be Creative?”

The first day of my course Creative Thinking: Theory and Practice, I always ask the students in the class if they think they are creative. Typically, fewer than half of the class members raise their hands. One reason for this is that people often confuse being “creative” with being “artistic”—skilled at art, music, poetry, creative writing, drama, dance. Although artistic people are certainly creative, there are an infinite number of ways to be creative that are not artistic. This is a mental trap that I fell into growing up. In school, I always dreaded art class because I was so inept. My pathetic drawings and art projects were always good for a laugh for my friends, and I felt no overwhelming urges to write poetry, paint, or compose music. I was certain that I had simply been born “uncreative” and accepted this “fact” as my destiny. It wasn’t until I graduated from college that I began to change this view of myself. I was working as a custom woodworker to support myself, designing and creating specialized furniture for people, when it suddenly struck me: I was being creative! I then began to see other areas of my life in which I was creative: playing sports, decorating my apartment, even writing research papers. I finally understood that being creative was a state of mind and a way of life. As the writer Eric Gill expresses it, “The artist is not a different kind of person, but each one of us is a different kind of artist.”

Are you creative? Yes! Think of all of the activities that you enjoy doing: cooking, creating a wardrobe, raising children, playing sports, cutting or braiding hair, dancing, playing music. Whenever you are investing your own personal ideas, putting on your own personal stamp, you are being creative. For example, imagine that you are cooking your favorite dish. To the extent that you are expressing your unique ideas developed through inspiration and experimentation, you are being creative. Of course, if you are simply following someone else’s recipe without significant modification, your dish may be tasty—but it is not creative. Similarly, if your moves on the dance floor or the basketball court express your distinctive personality, you are being creative, as you are when you stimulate the original thinking of your children or make your friends laugh with your unique brand of humor.

Living your life creatively means bringing your unique perspective and creative talents to all of the dimensions of your life. The following passages are written by students about creative areas in their lives. After reading the passages, complete 

Thinking Activity 1.6

, which gives you the opportunity to describe a creative area from your own life.

One of the most creative aspects of my life is my diet. I have been a vegetarian for the past five years, while the rest of my family has continued to eat meat. I had to overcome many obstacles to make this lifestyle work for me, including family dissension. The solution was simple: I had to learn how to cook creatively. I have come to realize that my diet is an ongoing learning process. The more I learn about and experiment with different foods, the healthier and happier I become. I feel like an explorer setting out on my own to discover new things about food and nutrition. I slowly evolved from a person who could cook food only if it came from a can into someone who could make bread from scratch and grow yogurt cultures. I find learning new things about nutrition and cooking healthful foods very relaxing and rewarding. I like being alone in my house baking bread; there is something very comforting about the aroma. Most of all I like to experiment with different ways to prepare foods, because the ideas are my own. Even when an effort is less than successful, I find pleasure in the knowledge that I gained from the experience. I discovered recently, for example, that eggplant is terrible in soup! Making mistakes seems to be a natural way to increase creativity, and I now firmly believe that people who say that they do not like vegetables simply have not been properly introduced to them!

As any parent knows, children have an abundance of energy to spend, and toys or television does not always meet their needs. In response, I create activities to stimulate their creativity and preserve my sanity. For example, I involve them in the process of cooking, giving them the skin from peeled vegetables and a pot so they can make their own “soup.” Using catalogs, we cut out pictures of furniture, rugs, and curtains, and they paste them onto cartons to create their own interior decors: vibrant living rooms, plush bedrooms, colorful family rooms. I make beautiful boats from aluminum foil, and my children spend hours in the bathtub playing with them. We “go bowling” with empty soda cans and a ball, and they star in “track meets” by running an obstacle course we set up. When it comes to raising children, creativity is a way of survival!

After quitting the government agency I was working at because of too much bureaucracy, I was hired as a carpenter at a construction site, although I had little knowledge of this profession. I learned to handle a hammer and other tools by watching other coworkers, and within a matter of weeks I was skilled enough to organize my own group of workers for projects. Most of my fellow workers used the old-fashioned method of construction carpentry, building panels with inefficient and poorly made bracings. I redesigned the panels in order to save construction time and materials. My supervisor and site engineer were thrilled with my creative ideas, and I was assigned progressively more challenging projects, including the construction of an office building that was completed in record time.

1-6bBecoming More Creative

Although each one of us has a nearly limitless potential to live creatively, most people use only a small percentage of their creative gifts. In fact, some research suggests that people typically achieve their highest creative point as young children, after which there is a long, steady decline into progressive uncreativity. Why? Well, to begin with, young children are immersed in the excitement of exploration and discovery. They are eager to try new things, act on their impulses, and make unusual connections between disparate ideas. They are not afraid to take risks in trying out untested solutions, and they are not compelled to identify the socially acceptable “correct answer.” Children are willing to play with ideas, creating improbable scenarios and imaginative ways of thinking without fear of being ridiculed.

All of this tends to change as we get older. The weight of “reality” begins to smother our imagination, and we increasingly focus our attention on the nuts and bolts of living rather than on playing with possibilities. The social pressure to conform to group expectations increases dramatically. Whether the group is our friends, classmates, or fellow employees, we encounter clearly defined “rules” for dressing, behaving, speaking, and thinking. When we deviate from these rules, we risk social disapproval, rejection, or ridicule. Most groups have little tolerance for individuals who want to think independently and creatively. As we become older, we also become more reluctant to pursue untested courses of action because we become increasingly afraid of failure. Pursuing creativity inevitably involves failure because we are trying to break out of established ruts and go beyond traditional methods. For example, going beyond the safety of a proven recipe to create an innovative dish may involve some disasters, but it’s the only way to create something genuinely unique. The history of creative discoveries is littered with failures, a fact we tend to forget when we are debating whether we should risk an untested idea. Those people who are courageous enough to risk failure while expressing their creative impulses are rewarded with unique achievements and an enriched life.

Thinking Activity 1.7

Identifying Creative Blocks

1. Reflect on your own creative development and describe some of the fears and pressures that inhibit your own creativity. For example, have you ever been penalized for trying a new idea that didn’t work out? Have you ever suffered the wrath of a group for daring to be different and violating the group’s unspoken rules? Do you feel that your life is so filled with responsibilities and the demands of reality that you don’t have time to be creative?

2. Although the forces that discourage us from being creative are powerful, they can nevertheless be overcome with the right approaches. We are going to explore four productive strategies:

· Understand and trust the creative process.

· Eliminate the “voice of criticism.”

· Establish a creative environment.

· Make creativity a priority.

Understand and Trust the Creative Process

Discovering your creative talents requires that you understand how the creative process operates and then have confidence in the results it produces. No fixed procedures or formulas exist for generating creative ideas, because creative ideas by definition go beyond established ways of thinking to the unknown and the innovative. As the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said, “You must expect the unexpected, because it cannot be found by search or trail.”

Although no fixed path leads to creative ideas, you can pursue activities that make the birth of creative ideas possible. In this respect, generating creative ideas is similar to gardening. You need to prepare the soil; plant the seeds; ensure proper water, light, and food; and then be patient until the ideas begin to sprout. Here are some steps for cultivating your creative garden:

· Absorb yourself in the task. Creative ideas don’t occur in a vacuum. They emerge after a great deal of work, study, and practice. For example, if you want to come up with creative ideas in the kitchen, you need to become knowledgeable about the art of cooking. The more knowledgeable you are, the better prepared you are to create valuable and innovative dishes. Similarly, if you are trying to develop a creative perspective for a research paper in college, you need to immerse yourself in the subject, developing an in-depth understanding of the central concepts and issues. Absorbing yourself in the task “prepares the soil” for your creative ideas.

· Allow time for ideas to incubate. After absorbing yourself in the task or problem, the next stage in the creative process is to stop working on the task or problem. Even when your conscious mind has stopped actively working on a task, the unconscious dimension of your mind continues working—processing, organizing, and ultimately generating innovative ideas and solutions. This process is known as incubation because it mirrors the process in which baby chicks gradually evolve inside the egg until the moment comes when they break through the shell. In the same way, your creative mind is at work while you are going about your business until the moment of illumination, when the incubating idea finally erupts to the surface of your conscious mind. People report that these illuminating moments—when their mental light bulbs go on—often occur when they are engaged in activities completely unrelated to the task. One of the most famous cases was that of the Greek thinker Archimedes, whose moment of illumination came while he was taking a bath, causing him to run naked through the streets of Athens shouting “Eureka” (“I have found it”).

· Seize on the ideas when they emerge and follow them through. Generating creative ideas is of little use unless you recognize them when they appear and then act on them. Too often people don’t pay much attention to these ideas when they occur, or they dismiss them as too impractical. You must have confidence in the ideas you create, even if they seem wacky or far-out. Many of the most valuable inventions in our history started as improbable ideas, ridiculed by popular wisdom. For example, the idea for Velcro started with burrs covering the pants of the inventor as he walked through a field, and Post-it Notes resulted from the accidental invention of an adhesive that was weaker than normal. In other words, thinking effectively means thinking creatively and thinking critically. After you use your creative thinking abilities to generate innovative ideas, you then must apply your critical thinking abilities to evaluate and refine the ideas and design a practical plan for implementing them.

Eliminate the “Voice of Criticism”

The biggest threat to our creativity lies within ourselves, the negative “voice of criticism” (VOC). This VOC can undermine your confidence in every area of your life, including your creative activities, with statements like:

· This is a stupid idea and no one will like it.

· Even if I could pull this idea off, it probably won’t amount to much.

· Although I was successful the last time I tried something like this, I was lucky and I won’t be able to do it again.

These statements, and countless others like them, have the ongoing effect of making us doubt ourselves and the quality of our creative thinking. As we lose confidence, we become more timid, more reluctant to follow through on ideas and present them to others. After a while, our cumulative insecurity discourages us from even generating ideas in the first place, and we end up simply conforming to established ways of thinking and the expectations of others. In doing so we surrender an important part of ourselves, the vital and dynamic creative core of our personality that defines our unique perspective on the world.

Where do these negative voices come from? Often they originate in the negative judgments we experienced while growing up or as adults when we encountered “trolls” on social media. These destructive criticisms become internalized as a part of ourselves. In the same way that praising children helps make them feel confident and secure, consistently criticizing them does the opposite. Although parents, teachers, and acquaintances often don’t intend these negative consequences with their critical judgments and lack of positive praise, and even though our reason reminds us that social media “trolls” are unjustified in their attacks, the unfortunate result is still the same: a “voice of criticism” that keeps hammering away at the value of ourselves, our ideas, and our creations. As a teacher, I see this VOC evident when students present their creative projects to the class with apologies like, “This isn’t very good, and it probably doesn’t make sense.”

How do we eliminate this unwelcome and destructive voice within ourselves? You can use a number of effective strategies, although you should be aware that the fight, while worth the effort, will not be easy.

· Become aware of the VOC. You have probably been listening to the negative messages of the VOC for so long that you may not even be consciously aware of them. To conquer the VOC, you need to first recognize when it speaks. In addition, it is helpful to analyze the negative messages, try to figure out how and why they developed, and then create strategies to overcome them. A good strategy is to keep a VOC journal, described in 

Thinking Activity 1.8

.

·

Restate the judgment in a more accurate or constructive way. Sometimes there is an element of truth in our self-judgments, but we have blown the reality out of proportion. For example, if you fail a test, your VOC may translate this as “I’m unintelligent and a failure.” In these instances, you need to translate the reality accurately: “I failed this test—I wonder what went wrong and how I can improve my performance in the future.”

· Get tough with the VOC. You can’t be a coward if you hope to overcome the VOC. Instead, you have to be strong and determined, telling yourself as soon as the VOC appears, “I’m throwing you out and not letting you back in!” This attack might feel peculiar at first, but it will soon become an automatic response when those negative judgments appear. Don’t give in to the judgments, even a little bit, by saying, “Well, maybe I’m just somewhat of a failure.” Get rid of the VOC entirely, and good riddance to it!

· Create positive voices and visualizations. The best way to destroy the VOC for good is to replace it with positive encouragements. As soon as you have stomped on the judgment “I’m a jerk,” you should replace it with “I’m an intelligent, valuable person with many positive qualities and talents.” Similarly, you should make extensive use of positive visualization, by “seeing” yourself performing well on your examinations, being entertaining and insightful with other people, and succeeding gloriously in the sport or dramatic production in which you are involved. If you make the effort to create these positive voices and images, they will eventually become a natural part of your thinking. And because positive thinking leads to positive results, your efforts will become self-fulfilling prophecies.

· Use other people for independent confirmation. The negative judgments coming from the VOC are usually irrational, but until they are dragged out into the light of day for examination, they can be very powerful. Sharing our VOC with others we trust is an effective strategy because they can provide an objective perspective that reveals to us the irrationality and destructiveness of these negative judgments. This sort of “reality testing” strips the judgments of their power, a process that is enhanced by the positive support of concerned friends with whom we have developed relationships over a period of time.

Thinking Activity 1.8

Combating the “Voice of Criticism”

1. Take a small notebook or pad with you one day and record every self-defeating criticism that you make about yourself. At the end of the day, classify your self-criticisms by category, such as negative self-criticism about your physical appearance, your popularity with others, or your academic ability.

2. Analyze the self-criticisms in each of the categories and try to determine where they came from and how they developed.

3. Use the strategies described in this section, and others of your own creation, to start fighting these self-criticisms when they occur.

Establish a Creative Environment

An important part of eliminating the negative voices in our minds is to establish environments in which our creative resources can flourish. This means finding or developing physical environments conducive to creative expression as well as supportive social environments. Sometimes working with other people stimulates and energizes our creative juices; at other times we require a private place where we can work without distraction. For example, I have a specific location in which I do much of my writing: sitting at my desk, with a calm, pleasing view of the Hudson River, music on the iPod, a cold drink, and a supply of roasted almonds and Jelly Bellies. I’m ready for creativity to strike me, although I sometimes have to wait for some time! Different environments work for different people. You have to find the environment(s) best suited to your own creative process and then make a special effort to do your work there.

The people in our lives who form our social environment play an even more influential role in encouraging or inhibiting our creative process. When we are surrounded by people who are positive and supportive, they increase our confidence and encourage us to take the risk to express our creative vision. They can stimulate our creativity by providing us with fresh ideas and new perspectives. By engaging in 

brainstorming

, they can work with us to generate ideas and then later help us figure out how to refine and implement the most valuable ones.

However, when the people around us tend to be negative, critical, or belittling, the opposite happens: We lose confidence and are reluctant to express ourselves creatively. Eventually, we begin to internalize these negative criticisms, incorporating them into our own VOC. When this occurs, we have the choice of telling people that we will not tolerate this sort of destructive behavior or, if they can’t improve their behavior, removing them from our lives. Of course, sometimes this is difficult because we work with them or they are related to us. In this case we have to work at diminishing their negative influence and spend more time with those who support us.

Make Creativity a Priority

Having diminished the voice of negative judgment in your mind, established a creative environment, and committed yourself to trusting your creative gifts, you are now in a position to live more creatively. How do you actually do this? Start small. Identify some habitual patterns in your life and break out of them. Choose new experiences whenever possible—for example, ordering unfamiliar items on a menu or getting to know people outside your circle of friends—and strive to develop fresh perspectives in your life. Resist falling back into the ruts you were previously in by remembering that living things are supposed to be continually growing, changing, and evolving, not acting in repetitive patterns like machines.

Thinking Critically About Visuals

“You Must Expect the Unexpected”—Heraclitus

Can you think of a time when a creative inspiration enabled you to see a solution to a problem that no one else could see? What can you do to increase these creative breakthroughs in your life? What strategies can you use to “expect the unexpected”?

Radioactive Cats 1980 Sandy Skoglund

Thinking Activity 1.9

Becoming More Creative

1. Select an area of your life in which you would like to be more creative. It can be in school, on your job, in an activity you enjoy, or in your relationship with someone. Make a special effort to inject a fresh perspective and new ideas into this area, and keep a journal recording your efforts and their results. Be sure to allow yourself sufficient time to break out of your ruts and establish new patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving. Focus on your creative antennae as you “expect the unexpected,” and pounce on new ideas when they emerge from the depths of your creative resource.

Thinking Critically About New Media

Creative Applications

Virtually every aspect of our lives has been affected by the development and use of new media technologies, including the way we think and write, communicate with one another, research and gather information, develop and sustain relationships, and create our identities.

Accompanying this new universe of possibilities are many risks and challenges that increase the need to develop and apply our critical thinking abilities. It’s essential that we have the strategies and insight to make sure that these powerful new vehicles of communication are used to enhance our lives, not complicate and damage them.

One of the themes of this chapter has been creative thinking, and new media offer an unprecedented opportunity to search for information that will enrich our creative endeavors. New media also afford us the chance to gather many different perspectives on our projects, with others’ ideas serving as catalysts to our creative imaginations. For example, ZTE is a Chinese company that used crowdsourcing to determine their next big product launch. Customers submitted proposals for virtual reality headsets, gloves you can control with your smartphone, and intelligent covers for phones. As reported by NPR, nearly 100,000 people from over 150 countries engaged in this unique crowdsourcing event. The winning idea was a phone that you could stick to a wall and control with your eyes while you brush your teeth in the morning, for example. ZTE is now developing such a device that they’re calling the Hawkeye (a name that was also crowdsourced).

More detail on ZTE’s project can be found by visiting: http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2017/01/05/508026494/the-hawkeye-is-the-adhesive-eye-tracking-phone-the-internet-asked-for.

1-6cThinking Passages: Nurturing Creativity

The process of creating yourself through your choices is a lifelong one that involves all the creative and critical thinking abilities that we will be exploring in this book. The processes of creative thinking and critical thinking are related to one another in complex, interactive ways. We use the creative thinking process to develop ideas that are unique, useful, and worthy of further elaboration, and we use the critical thinking process to analyze, evaluate, and refine these ideas. Creative thinking and critical thinking work as partners, enabling us to lead fulfilling lives. The following article, “Original Spin,” by Lesley Dormen and Peter Edidin, provides a useful introduction to creative thinking and suggests strategies for increasing your creative abilities. After reading the article and reflecting on their ideas, answer the questions that follow.

Original Spin

by Lesley Dormen and Peter Edidin

Creativity, somebody once wrote, is the search for the elusive “Aha,” that moment of insight when one sees the world, or a problem, or an idea, in a new way. Traditionally, whether the discovery results in a cubist painting or an improved carburetor, we have viewed the creative instant as serendipitous and rare—the product of genius, the property of the elect.

Unfortunately, this attitude has had a number of adverse consequences. It encourages us to accept the myth that the creative energy society requires to address its own problems will never be present in sufficient supply. Beyond that, we have come to believe that “ordinary” people like ourselves can never be truly creative. As John Briggs, author of Fire in the Crucible: The Alchemy of Creative Genius, said, “The way we talk about creativity tends to reinforce the notion that it is some kind of arbitrary gift. It’s amazing the way ‘not having it’ becomes wedded to people’s self-image. They invariably work up a whole series of rationalizations about why they ‘aren’t creative,’ as if they were damaged goods of some kind.” Today, however, researchers are looking at creativity, not as an advantage of the human elite, but as a basic human endowment. As Ruth Richards, a psychiatrist and creativity researcher at McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA, says, “You were being creative when you learned how to walk. And if you are looking for something in the fridge, you’re being creative because you have to figure out for yourself where it is.” Creativity, in Richards’ view, is simply fundamental to getting about in the world. It is “our ability to adapt to change. It is the very essence of human survival.”

In an age of rampant social and technological change, such an adaptive capability becomes yet more crucial to the individual’s effort to maintain balance in a constantly shifting environment. “People need to recognize that what Alvin Toffler called future shock is our daily reality,” says Ellen McGrath, a clinical psychologist who teaches creativity courses at New York University. “Instability is an intrinsic part of our lives, and to deal with it every one of us will need to find new, creative solutions to the challenges of everyday life.”

. . .

But can you really become more creative? If the word creative smacks too much of Picasso at his canvas, then rephrase the question in a less intimidating way: Do you believe you could deal with the challenges of life in a more effective, inventive, and fulfilling manner? If the answer is yes, then the question becomes, “What’s stopping you?”

Defining Yourself as a Creative Person

People often hesitate to recognize the breakthroughs in their own lives as creative. But who has not felt the elation and surprise that come with the sudden, seemingly inexplicable discovery of a solution to a stubborn problem? In that instant, in “going beyond the information given,” as psychologist Jerome Bruner has said, to a solution that was the product of your own mind, you were expressing your creativity.

This impulse to “go beyond” to a new idea is not the preserve of genius, stresses David Henry Feldman, a developmental psychologist at Tufts University and the author of Nature’s Gambit, a study of child prodigies. “Not everybody can be Beethoven,” he says, “but it is true that all humans, by virtue of being dreamers and fantasizers, have a tendency to take liberties with the world as it exists. Humans are always transforming their inner and outer worlds. It’s what I call the ‘transformational imperative.’”

The desire to play with reality, however, is highly responsive to social control, and many of us are taught early on to repress the impulse. As Mark Runco, associate professor of psychology at California State University at Fullerton and the founder of the new Creativity Research Journal, says, “We put children in groups and make them sit in desks and raise their hands before they talk. We put all the emphasis on conformity and order, then we wonder why they aren’t being spontaneous and creative.”

Adults too are expected to conform in any number of ways and in a variety of settings. Conformity, after all, creates a sense of order and offers the reassurance of the familiar. But to free one’s natural creative impulses, it is necessary, to some extent, to resist the pressure to march in step with the world. Begin small, suggests Richards. “Virtually nothing you do can’t be done in a slightly different, slightly better way. This has nothing to do with so-called creative pursuits but simply with breaking with your own mindsets and trying an original way of doing some habitual task. Simply defer judgment on yourself for a little while and try something new. Remember, the essence of life is not getting things right, but taking risks, making mistakes, getting things wrong.”

Avoiding the Myths

David Perkins, co-director of Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, asks in The Mind’s Best Work, “When you have it—creativity, that is—what do you have?” The very impalpability of the subject means that often creativity can be known only by its products. Indeed, the most common way the researchers define creativity is by saying it is whatever produces something that is: a. original; b. adaptive (i.e., useful); c. meaningful to others. But because we don’t understand its genesis, we’re often blocked or intimidated by the myths that surround and distort this mercurial subject.

Thinking Critically About Visuals

“Express Yourself!”

Our creative talents can be expressed in almost every area of our lives. How is the woman in the photo expressing herself creatively? What are some of your favorite activities in which you are able to express your unique personality in innovative ways?

RosaIreneBetancourt 11/Alamy Stock Photo

One of these myths is, in Perkins’s words, that creativity is “a kind of ‘stuff’ that the creative person has and uses to do creative things, never mind other factors.” This bit of folk wisdom, that creativity is a sort of intangible psychic organ—happily present in some and absent in others—so annoys Perkins that he would like to abolish the word itself.

Another prevalent myth about creativity is that it is restricted to those who are “geniuses”—that is, people with inordinately high IQs. Ironically, this has been discredited by a study begun by Stanford psychologist Lewis Terman, the man who adapted the original French IQ test for America. In the early 1920s, Terman had California schoolteachers choose 1,528 “genius” schoolchildren (those with an IQ above 135), whose lives were then tracked year after year. After six decades, researchers found that the putative geniuses, by and large, did well in life. They entered the professions in large numbers and led stable, prosperous lives. But very few made notable creative contributions to society, and none did extraordinarily creative work.

According to Dean Simonton, professor of psychology at the University of California at Davis and the author of Genius, Creativity and Leadership and Scientific Genius, “There just isn’t any correlation between creativity and IQ. The average college graduate has an IQ of about 120, and this is high enough to write novels, do scientific research, or any other kind of creative work.”

A third myth, voiced eons ago by Socrates, lifts creativity out of our own lives altogether into a mystical realm that makes it all but unapproachable. In this view, the creative individual is a kind of oracle, the passive conduit or channel chosen by God, or the tribal ancestors, or the muse, to communicate sacred knowledge.

Although there are extraordinary examples of creativity, for which the only explanation seems to be supernatural intervention (Mozart, the story goes, wrote the overture to Don Giovanni in only a few hours, after a virtually sleepless night and without revision), by and large, creativity begins with a long and intensive apprenticeship.

Psychologist Howard Gruber believes that it takes at least 10 years of immersion in a given domain before an eminent creator is likely to be able to make a distinctive mark. Einstein, for example, who is popularly thought to have doodled out the theory of relativity at age 26 in his spare time, was in fact compulsively engaged in thinking about the problem at least from the age of 16.

Finally, many who despair of ever being creative do so because they tried once and failed, as though the truly creative always succeed. In fact, just the opposite is true, says Dean Simonton. He sees genius, in a sense, as inseparable from failure. “Great geniuses make tons of mistakes,” he says. “They generate lots of ideas and they accept being wrong. They have a kind of internal fortress that allows them to fail and just keep going. Look at Edison. He held over 1,000 patents, but most of them are not only forgotten, they weren’t worth much to begin with.”

Mindlessness Versus Mindfulness

“Each of us desires to share with others our vision of the world, only most of us have been taught that it’s wrong to do things differently or look at things differently,” says John Briggs. “We lose confidence in ourselves and begin to look at reality only in terms of the categories by which society orders it.”

This is the state of routinized conformity and passive learning that Harvard professor of psychology Ellen Langer calls, appropriately enough, mindlessness. For it is the state of denying the perceptions and promptings of our own minds, our individual selves. Langer and her colleagues’ extensive research over the past 15 years has shown that when we act mindlessly, we behave automatically and limit our capacity for creative response. Mired down in a numbing daily routine, we may virtually relinquish our capacity for independent thought and action.

By contrast, Langer refers to a life in which we use our affective, responsive, perceptive faculties as “mindful.” When we are mindful, her research has shown, we avoid rigid, reflexive behavior in favor of a more improvisational and intuitive response to life. We notice and feel the world around us and then act in accordance with our feelings. “Many, if not all, of the qualities that make up a mindful attitude are characteristic of creative people,” Langer writes in her new book, Mindfulness. “Those who can free themselves of mindsets, open themselves to new information and surprise, play with perspective and context, and focus on process rather than outcome are likely to be creative, whether they are scientists, artists, or cooks.”

Much of Langer’s research has demonstrated the vital relationship between creativity and uncertainty, or conditionality. For instance, in one experiment, Langer and Alison Piper introduced a collection of objects to one group of people by saying, “This is a hair dryer,” and “This is a dog’s chew toy,” and so on. Another group was told, “This could be a hair dryer,” and “This could be a dog’s chew toy.” Later, the experimenters for both groups invented a need for an eraser, but only those people who had been conditionally introduced to the objects thought to use the dog’s toy in this new way.

The intuitive understanding that a single thing is, or could be, many things, depending on how you look at it, is at the heart of the attitude Langer calls mindfulness. But can such an amorphous state be cultivated? Langer believes that it can, by consciously discarding the idea that any given moment of your day is fixed in its form. “I teach people to ‘componentize’ their lives into smaller pieces,” she says. “In the morning, instead of mindlessly downing your orange juice, taste it. Is it what you want? Try something else if it isn’t. When you walk to work, turn left instead of right. You’ll notice the street you’re on, the buildings and the weather. Mindfulness, like creativity, is nothing more than a return to who you are. By minding your responses to the world, you will come to know yourself again. How you feel. What you want. What you want to do.”

Creating the Right Atmosphere

Understanding the genesis of creativity, going beyond the myths to understand your creative potential, and recognizing your ability to break free of old ways of thinking are the three initial steps to a more creative life. The fourth is finding ways to work that encourage personal commitment and expressiveness.

Letting employees learn what they want to do has never been a very high priority in the workplace. There, the dominant regulation has always been, “Do what you are told.”

Today, however, economic realities are providing a new impetus for change. The pressure on American businesses to become more productive and innovative has made creative thinking a hot commodity in the business community. But innovation, business is now learning, is likely to be found wherever bright and eager people think they can find it. And some people are looking in curious places.

Financier Wayne Silby, for example, founded the Calvert Group of Funds, which today manages billions of dollars in assets. Silby, whose business card at one point read Chief Daydreamer, occasionally retreats for inspiration to a sensory deprivation tank, where he floats in warm water sealed off from light and sound. “I went into the tank during a time when the government was changing money-market deposit regulations, and I needed to think how to compete with banks. Floating in the tank I got the idea of joining them instead. We wound up creating an $800-million program. Often we already have answers to our problems, but we don’t quiet ourselves enough to see the solutions bubbling just below the surface.” Those solutions will stay submerged, he says, “unless you create a culture that encourages creative approaches, where it’s OK to have bad ideas.”

. . .
The Payoff

In The Courage to Create, Rollo May wrote that for much of [the twentieth] century, researchers had avoided the subject of creativity because they perceived it as “unscientific, mysterious, disturbing and too corruptive of the scientific training of graduate students.” But today researchers are coming to see that creativity, at once fugitive and ubiquitous, is the mark of human nature itself.

Whether in business or the arts, politics, or personal relationships, creativity involves “going beyond the information given” to create or reveal something new in the world. And almost invariably, when the mind exercises its creative muscle, it also generates a sense of pleasure. The feeling may be powerfully mystical, as it is for New York artist Rhonda Zwillinger, whose embellished artwork appeared in the film Slaves of New York. Zwillinger reports, “There are times when I’m working and it is almost as though I’m a vessel and there is a force operating through me. It is the closest I come to having a religious experience.” The creative experience may also be quiet and full of wonder, as it was for Isaac Newton, who compared his lifetime of creative effort to “a boy playing on the seashore and diverting himself and then finding a smoother pebble or prettier shell than ordinary, while the greater ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”

But whatever the specific sensation, creativity always carries with it a powerful sense of the mind working at the peak of its ability. Creativity truly is, as David Perkins calls it, the mind’s best work, its finest effort. We may never know exactly how the brain does it, but we can feel that it is exactly what the brain was meant to do.

Aha!

1-7Thinking Ahead

The first line of this chapter stated, “Thinking is the extraordinary process we use every waking moment to make sense of our world and our lives.” Throughout this chapter, we have explored the different ways our thinking enables us to make sense of the world by working toward goals, making decisions, and living creatively. Of course, our thinking helps us make sense of the world in other ways as well. When we attend a concert, listen to a lecture, or try to understand someone’s behavior, it is our thinking that enables us to figure out what is happening. In fact, these attempts to make sense of what is happening are going on all the time in our lives, and they represent the heart of the thinking process.

If we review the different ways of thinking we have explored in this chapter, we can reach several conclusions about thinking:

· Thinking is directed toward a purpose. When we think, it is usually for a purpose—to reach a goal, make a decision, or analyze an issue.

· Thinking is an organized process. When we think effectively, there is usually an order or organization to our thinking. For each of the thinking activities we explored, we saw that certain steps or approaches help us reach goals, make decisions, and live creatively.

We can put together these conclusions about thinking to form a working definition of the term.

Thinking

 is a purposeful, organized cognitive process that we use to understand the world and make informed decisions. It develops with use over a lifetime, and we can improve our thinking in an organized and systematic way by following these steps:

· Carefully examine our thinking process and the thinking process of others. In this chapter, we have explored various ways in which our thinking works. By focusing our attention on these (and other) thinking approaches and strategies, we can learn to think more effectively.

· Practice our thinking abilities. To improve our thinking, we actually have to think for ourselves, to explore and make sense of situations by using our thinking abilities. Although it is important to read about thinking and learn how other people think, there is no substitute for actually doing it ourselves.

Examining critical thinking and creative thinking is a rich and complex enterprise. These two dimensions of the thinking process are so tightly interwoven that both must be addressed together in order to understand them individually. For example, you can use your creative thinking abilities to visualize your ideal future. With this idea as a starting point, you can then use your critical thinking abilities to refine your idea and research existing opportunities. Once a clear goal is established, you can use your creative thinking abilities to generate possible ideas for achieving this goal, while your critical thinking abilities can help you evaluate your various options and devise a practical, organized plan.

It is apparent that creative thinking and critical thinking work as partners to produce productive and effective thinking, thus enabling us to make informed decisions and lead successful lives. As this text unfolds, you will be given the opportunity to become familiar with both of these powerful forms of thought as you develop your abilities to think both critically and creatively.

Chapter 1 Reviewing and Viewing
1-8a Summary

· Living an examined life means painting your life portrait with reflective understanding and informed choices.

· Thinking critically involves carefully exploring the thinking process to clarify our understanding and make more intelligent decisions.

· Thinking creatively involves using our thinking process to develop ideas that are unique, useful, and worthy of further elaboration.

· Achieving your goals involves identifying the “right” goals and then developing an effective plan of action.

· We can make more intelligent decisions by using an organized five-step approach to guide our analysis.

· Living your life creatively means bringing your unique perspective and creative talents to all dimensions of your life.

· Creative thinking and critical thinking work as partners to produce productive and effective thinking, thus enabling us to make informed decisions and lead successful lives.

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