” The quality of your life is determined by the quality of your decisions, and the quality of your decisions is determined by the quality of your thinking.” Schick and Vaughn, How to Think About Weird Things: Critical Thinking for a New Age That quote is the essence of what I try to convey to my students, to my children, and to those who choose to come by and sit a spell and visit with me at my blogs. It’s something you ought to take a minute to say out loud a couple of times like we’re at one of those awful cheesy self-help workshops. Seriously. You should. It’s something that really matters. The quality of our thinking sets everything else up, puts all the balls up in the air. The quality of our thinking. We don’t educate our children about critical thinking the way we should and the fundamental reason is we aren’t equipped by and large to do so because we don’t have those tools ourselves. We are biased, irrational people who go with our guts. It works enough times in that we scrape by alive that it’s good enough for most of us. It shouldn’t be, though, because the quality of our lives suffers when we let our biases bite us in the ass and choose to self-justify our way around our mistakes instead of facing them head-on. If our thought process is not sharp, clear, rational, then our decisions will not be either. We will make poor decisions and we will pay the price for those decisions. For some of us, it means that we’ll avail ourselves of google scholar and investigate sites that cater to our particular fears and worries and choose to not vaccinate for fear that doing so will send our worlds crashing down upon our heads. Some of us will decide to believe in huge governmental and industrial conspiracies because there’s just enough of a whisper of it there to make it our bogey man. Others will choose to believe that the earth is flat, that 911 was perpetrated by our government, that the moon landing was faked. Maybe a lot of those decisions won’t matter in our daily lives; we’ll contain ourselves, keep some of our kookier ideas quiet. Maybe. Until it’s crunch time and we’ve got to decide what medical treatments to avail ourselves of, whether we’ll spend our excess cash on magnets, salt crystal lamps, crystals, reiki, stem cell therapy, or any of the other quack treatments looking to lighten our wallets and rob us of the time, money and energy to pursue rational, evidence-based medicines. Maybe this whole quality of thinking thing is a little bit like faith; you won’t know until you’re in a crisis whether you’ve given yourself the foundation to hold steady and make it through the bad times. How we engage the world on the little things (do we buy one of those infomercial products because of the testimonials?) is a good predictor of how we’ll engage it on the big things. Maybe we fluff it up on the little things and no harm is done. Our wallet is lighter, our chagrin at being taken in by a con a little hard to wear gracefully. No big deal, though, and we usually self-justify and rationalize our way right out of that embarrassment. If we keep piling up those little mistakes without learning any lessons, eventually it will bite us in the ass. And what will we do then? When it’s the real deal and we’ve got to think fast and on our feet and the consequences of our thoughts, our decisions, are life and death? The quality of our thinking. In the end, it all comes down to this.