How do we recognize a good reason when we see one? In a previous post, I mentioned the concern that in general Americans have poor critical thinking skills. They have difficulty determining the difference between real and fake, bogus and genuine, good reasons and bad ones.
How do we recognize a good reason when we see one? Or a bad reason, for that matter. With all the on-going twists and spins on matters of public importance, discernment is an important skill to have. And as it so happens, reality, authenticity, and good reasons all possess recognizable characteristics that allow us to identify them. In Western culture, the attributes of good reasons are contained in a hierarchy of ten levels, from most to least credible.
A few centuries ago, revelation and faith were higher in the standings. Today, fewer and fewer people are willing to accept those alone as good reasons, and they demand something more empirical. Consensus may be gaining credibility with recent studies showing some evidence that crowds can make good decisions. The top three attributes—perception, self-awareness, and memory—are used almost exclusively in our daily lives and the other attributes are reserved for special situations.
That’s a quick review for now. In later posts, I’ll take a look at each attribute and its level of credibility in more detail.