The answer may seem obvious. In case you’re wondering, the answer is:


On another outlet, a person asserted that rational and critical thinking is akin to thinking like a psycho- or sociopath. They then proceeded to make “scare quotes” from other articles (i.e. picking particularly chilling passages about documented psychopaths) in an attempt to emotionally manipulate anyone who might read their “contribution” into agreeing with their premise, or otherwise be equated with psychopathy.

This has quietly enraged me.

Below is the majority of my reply to this person, because I fear that this is something that people actually think, and this scares the ever-living Jeebus out of me.

The point of critical thinking skills is not to BECOME anything. The point is to cause each individual person to weigh ALL of the evidence that impacts them, to be curious enough to investigate what they don’t understand, until THEY are permitted to come to the conclusion which THEY believe suits the evidence. That’s it.

Real indoctrination comes from people who do not permit evidence to be counted because it goes against their dogma. Every human being is susceptible to this, from religious types to scientists, because we all like our worlds to be explainable and reliable, and as human beings, we don’t like things that challenge what we “know” to be true. We tend to fight against those things by making unfavorable comparisons (like, say, equating critical thinking to being a psychopath) or otherwise degrading them, laughing at them, or even pretending they don’t exist. All of these things are failures of critical thinking.

Considering a wide variety of evidence from agreeing and conflicting viewpoints and coming to a conclusion, whatever that conclusion is, is not “thinking like a psychopath”. A psychopath, as evidenced by the entirety of the article you linked to (which is a good read, by the way, even if you insist on cherry-picking pieces of it to support your flawed conclusion) is narcissistic, tends toward the obsessive, and is sometimes to be considered ‘hyper-rational’ because they lack some of the emotional capability of a neurotypical individual. While it’s true that proponents of ‘rationality’ argue against the use of emotions within a decision, there’s a reason for that: emotions tend to cause us to disregard evidence that we don’t agree with before giving it a fair shake. However, the fact remains that for a neurotypical individual, emotions are part and parcel of the human experience, and internal emotional evidence MUST be weighed as part of the evidence in coming to a conclusion. How much weight an individual gives to those emotions will depend on that individual, particularly in the strength of their meta-cognition.

Rationality and critical thinking are not ways of thinking—they are ways of thinking ABOUT thinking, methods for understanding ourselves and the world around us. You do yourself and everyone who reads what you write a disservice by making false and specious comparisons.