In a Georgia county just north of Atlanta, a CNN reporter interviewed four residents who still had their Trump signs posted and flags flying. I was struck by how articulate they were while explaining their reasons for believing Trump still has a chance to "turn this around" and win re-election.
Today, these folks hang on the horns of a national dilemma. (They really don't, but I'll use this situation as a practical example of non-critical thinking.)
This imaginary dilemma exists in these Americans' minds because of the intentional misuse of language and misunderstanding of misused language's implications. To be clear, the intentional misuse of assertions and assessments and the failure on the part of those people taken-in by the imaginary dilemma to understand the difference.
It boils down to an error in thinking. Specifically, the error of misunderstanding that assessments are opinions and assertions require evidence.
When we offer an assessment as an assertion, it requires we provide evidence to be true. That's why Trump's legal claims are dismissed in court. His lawyers have no evidence for their assertions, which make them assessments.
Unfortunately, this is not the same test in the public narrative. Politicians offer their assessments as assertions every day, and the public generally only applies one test, "does it agree with what I already believe? If it does, it must be true."
Overall, the effectiveness of our thinking depends on the appropriate use and interpretations of language. These interpretations require an accurate grasp of the context within which they occur and a solid personal footing from which to judge them.
The late psychologist Dr. Roger Birkman made two critical observations central to this point:
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