Jun 12 2008
Andrew Bernardin researches and writes about topics from general skepticism to psychology, religion, and the nature of time. A former adjunct professor of psychology for Daytona State College, Andrew is the author of The Naked Bible and A Turtle on the Pond of Time. Andrew currently blogs at FloridaSkeptics.com. Besides writing and doing a bit of website design on the side, Andrew is a volunteer grief counselor, working with teenagers who have recently experienced the death of a loved one. Andrew lives in Florida with his wife of 25 years.
My modus operandi (in brief):
I believe that while curiosity promotes cognitive development and wards off sclerosis of the belief-system, rationality can help us distinguish between those theories, arguments, and bits of evidence that are strong, and those that are weak.
Although our years of schooling (formal education) are limited, learning is something we do every day of our lives. Not only do we constantly learn new pieces of information, but we occasionally learn new ways of thinking about information. Curiosity and rationality are essential to becoming better learners, to improving both what and how we think.
When pulled into learning by curiosity, we are likely to fully explore the material before us and to freely contemplate its significance. We are also more likely to seek and gather information beyond our short-term and sometimes biased objectives.
The curious mind is forever asking questions and is continually receptive to new information. Whether or not that information is considered valid is the work of rationality.
Rationality can be viewed as the conscious weighing of information (and any argumentation used to convey it) to come to a decision or conclusion. Decisions and conclusions can be more or less rational depending upon the information they are based upon and the strength or weakness of the reasoning employed. Less rational conclusions tend to result from too little information, poor quality information, a biased selection of information, the improper weighting of information and/or week argumentation.
Not coincidentally, rationality is the bedrock scientific thinking is built upon. Science, as you are probably aware, has proven to be the best way to advance our understanding of the universe. Yet Einstein once described science as the refinement of everyday thinking. There is nothing alien or anti-human about science, as there is nothing alien or anti-human about rationality. Both should be embraced as the working of a refined mind. And that refinement is a work in progress.