Saturday, July 17, 2010

Consider NOT Considering the Source

Consider the source.

That is one of those truisms for critical thinking we learned in college. Before you accept something you hear or read as truth with a capital T, look at who is saying it, and decide if they are worth listening to or not. Is this person an expert? Is this article peer-reviewed? Was the study double-blinded? Could this person be biased? Do I even like this guy?

It's a good idea, to an extent, but I submit it can get carried too far. Do you ever consider the source before you listen to what they have to say? I know I do. Oh, that guy is a Republican. I know I won't agree with him. Her? She said something nasty and untrue to my friend the other day. I know I won't believe a word she says. My husband? I'm pissed at him for something he did this morning, so anything he says today I'll take personally.

The thing is, if you filter stuff before it even gets to your brain, like this, you can miss out on a lot of good information. That Republican guy might have something reasonable to say about the gulf oil spill. The nasty gal might have just been on the rag the other day and have a great tip for sale dresses today. My husband making an observation about my behavior might just be right (I cringe to admit).

I've been practicing NOT considering the source. Try evaluating the message on its own merits. Forget the messenger. Whether it be someone's take on current events or feedback on how I come across, I'm trying a "just the facts, ma'am" approach. Is the message valid, interesting, worth considering? If so, it doesn't matter where it came from. I can learn from the message, even if I'm too biased to learn from the messenger.

If the message is worthless, let it go. Push the eject button and get it out of my mind. Easier said than done, but worth a try.

The Authors of "50 Ways" Interview on KCHF TV

50 Ways to Leave Your 40s TV interview with Phoenix' Pat McMahon