The world is full of it. Complex events, widespread misinformation and rigid agendas have made it hard to navigate this minefield of manure. There are more piles than nuggets in that field of green. Maintaining a reasonable and rational approach to today’s issues is essential if we want to be confident in our conclusions. Here are ten tips for doing just that.
1. Don’t willingly accept a popular explanation or solution. Such explanations are typically over-simplified. And clamored-for solutions usually miss the mark.
2. Always be open to information that disagrees with your current view. When traversing a field full of bull, it’s wise to keep your eyes open and focused.
3. Think beyond the first level of every issue. Ask what happens next. Make sure the puzzle pieces fit together. Imagine scenarios that would play out, step by step.
4. Explore, but be wary of, unlikely explanations and complex solutions. It’s tempting to embrace emotional or conspiratorial scenarios, but realize they are almost always bogus.
5. Ask why. Think about why things are done, said and reported. Consider motivations when you’re offered a free meal. What you are being fed is only safe if the cook has clean hands and good intentions. And the kitchen is always filthier than you imagined. Safety first.
6. Be willing to question yourself. Be ready to revise your views and always remain open to abandoning a theory. Be rigid in your flexibility, you might say.
7. Express yourself. You often learn more from presenting your own considered opinion than you do from hearing others present the same (or a different) one. Listen to yourself as well as others.
8. Be ready and willing to acknowledge stupid ideas for what they are. Because, really, you can’t polish a turd. Step over it.
9. Don’t focus solely on an event as it transpired. Ask what happened leading up to it. Wonder what happens next. Consider broader assumptions with the perspective of history.
10. Be confident in your common sense and apply it generously to everything you consider. When it looks like it’s about to hit the fan, remember to turn off the fan right away. It’s just common sense. And that’s NoBull.