your explanation of the difference between common sense and science, the connections between common sense and people’s beliefs, and how this all relates to critical thinking and to being a scholar-practitioner in your area(s) of interest. Include your definition of “belief perseverance” and explain how it interferes with critical thinking. Share at least one strategy you would employ (or have employed) to ensure critical thinking in the presence of a personal belief system.
Common sense and science are two distinct ways of understanding the world, each with its own merits and limitations. Common sense refers to the basic knowledge and understanding that most people possess and use to navigate their daily lives. It is acquired through personal experiences, cultural influences, and social interactions. On the other hand, science is a systematic and evidence-based approach to understanding the natural and social phenomena around us. It involves hypotheses, experimentation, data analysis, and peer review.
One key difference between common sense and science lies in their reliance on empirical evidence. Common sense often relies on anecdotal evidence and subjective interpretation, whereas science emphasizes the collection and analysis of objective data. Science aims to uncover generalizable principles or laws that can be used to predict and explain phenomena, whereas common sense is more individualistic and context-dependent.
However, it is important to note that common sense and science are not mutually exclusive. Common sense provides a foundation for scientific inquiry by raising questions and generating hypotheses. Many scientific theories and innovations have their roots in observations made through common sense reasoning. In fact, scientists themselves rely on common sense to some extent in their daily lives, even though it may not be directly applicable to their research.
Common sense is closely connected to people’s beliefs because it is influenced by cultural norms, values, and personal experiences. Beliefs are deeply ingrained cognitive frameworks that shape our understanding of the world and guide our actions and decisions. They can be based on common sense, religious or spiritual teachings, or ideological affiliations. Beliefs can provide a sense of meaning, purpose, and identity to individuals and communities.
The relationship between common sense and beliefs can be both beneficial and problematic. On one hand, common sense and beliefs allow individuals to navigate and make sense of complex situations. They provide a sense of security and familiarity, and can serve as a starting point for critical thinking. On the other hand, beliefs can lead to bias, prejudice, and closed-mindedness. Belief perseverance is the tendency to cling to one’s initial beliefs even when confronted with contrary evidence or logical arguments.
Belief perseverance can interfere with critical thinking by preventing individuals from objectively evaluating new information or revising their existing beliefs. It creates cognitive biases and confirmation biases, where individuals seek out information that supports their existing beliefs and ignore or dismiss evidence that contradicts them. This hinders the ability to consider alternative perspectives, make informed decisions, and engage in productive discussions.
To ensure critical thinking in the presence of a personal belief system, one strategy is to cultivate intellectual humility. Intellectual humility involves recognizing the limits of one’s knowledge and being open to the possibility of being wrong. It requires actively seeking out and considering diverse perspectives, challenging one’s own biases, and being willing to revise or update beliefs in light of new evidence.
Another strategy is to engage in reflective thinking. This involves taking the time to step back, evaluate one’s own assumptions, and critically analyze the underlying reasons and evidence for holding a particular belief. Reflective thinking encourages self-awareness, introspection, and a willingness to question one’s own beliefs.
In my own area of interest, as a scholar-practitioner, ensuring critical thinking involves maintaining a strong commitment to evidence-based practices. This means relying on empirical research and established theories to inform decision-making and practice. It requires staying updated with the latest research findings, critically evaluating the quality and relevance of the evidence, and being open to modifying one’s approach based on new knowledge. Collaborating with other scholars and professionals in the field also provides opportunities for constructive feedback, challenges to one’s assumptions, and the exchange of different perspectives.