After I describe the lecture and it's content I want to focus on the differences between the Paul-Elder model and Scientology because it's almost a perfect opposite to Scientology. You will easily see this if you are familiar with Scientology, particularly if you spent decades in Scientology as I did. Understanding a sound model of critical thinking like this well immediately exposes Scientology as pseudoscience and an intellectual sham. The difference is night and day.
Paul-Elder Critical Thinking Framework
Elements of Thought (reasoning)
Universal Intellectual Standards
Characteristics of a Well-Cultivated Critical Thinker
Richard Paul pointed out many relevant issues regarding critical thinking in his lectures. One issue he dealt with is different degrees of understanding of issues.
One lecture in particular is worth serious examination.
It's on YouTube with the Title Prove: Why Intellectual Standards ? Why Teach For Them ?
From CriticalThinkingOrg published on April 23, 2015 with a length of fifty five minutes and nineteen seconds. This post addresses the content of that lecture.
He described sophisticate believers and vulgar believers. He said vulgar believers really don't understand the logic of the content, they don't understand the ideology.
He pointed out that a person could be what he called a vulgar believer. He gave the example of a person who claims to be a Marxist who has a handful of slogans like "seize the means of production, power to the people, down with the bourgeois" and so on. The person never read Marx or any related authors or contemporaries of Marx. The person doesn't understand ANY of the ideas of Marx besides these slogans in the barest manner possible. They don't understand the terms in the subject or anything else. They may be willing to die for Marx or Marxism but don't understand anything about it.
He described sophisticate believers and vulgar believers. He said vulgar believers really don't understand the logic of the content, they don't understand the ideology.
He said a step up from a vulgar believer regarding a subject is a sophisticate believer. The sophisticate believer understands the ideas in a subject far more than the vulgar believer. But they are predisposed to not understand how the subject they are aware of can be critiqued by other systems and interacts with subjects outside the one subject they defend. He gave the test that they don't see the flaws and weaknesses in their system and the answers that other systems can give to incorporate them and improve their system. They are aware of no flaws in their system. They see no other system as necessary. He described them as being able to recite six volumes of very narrow minded reasoning that never entertains another system. Crucially they try to understand the system outside their own system to negate it and defend their own system. He defined this as apologetics and said you ought to apologize for it.
This is worth strong emphasis. He described it as trying to show everyone why you are right and everyone else is wrong all the time.
He described the challenge of critical thinking as trying to get students to not be vulgar believers or sophisticate believers.
Huh ? The examples with this are plentiful in life. It's a defining characteristic of cultic groups. If you have a philosophy or subject that is only seen as superior to and in conflict with all other subjects that is a huge red flag.
We have various extreme sects that take virtually any religious beliefs and refuse to give any subjects whether scientific or medical or of any other kind a chance to be used to be seen as legitimate also then you have a cult.
In all major religions you also have sects that do not reject all other subjects and get called moderate that are not cultic, so the approach to thinking and degree of control that a subject is enforced with determine a lot.
A sophisticate believer knows enough to attack other subjects, but not usually enough to understand them really as anything other than something to attack and degrade, not really a deep understanding.
Imagine that you see physics as superior to everything else. And you see chemistry and biology as worthless and inferior. And teaching and study as things to not learn because they are not physics.
You would be less capable in physics than you potentially could be obviously because study and teaching are essential to learning physics itself. Other subjects that involve human beings like psychology and influence and our biases and behavior affect ANY subject we interact with as they affect how we do and learn EVERYTHING.
A sophisticate believer has such poor understanding of how subjects can interact and help each other with being applied to each other that they really don't understand their own subject completely.
Richard Paul described a thinker that understands a subject as itself and how other subjects can interact and be used to evaluate a subject as a critical thinker. If you can look at physics and use the subject of critical thinking to see the strengths and weaknesses in physics you have an advantage. If you can use logic to look at the logic within physics and see what is what you are free to be objective and not just defend orthodox beliefs.
A subject that is too sacred to be observed through the lens of other subjects is immune from criticism and critical thinking. Whatever beliefs one holds of a religious or spiritual or philosophical nature that cannot be treated as anything besides sacred cannot be critically thought of. I have also encountered the phenomenon of people believing in atheism or their idea of critical thinking (what Richard Paul would probably have called a pseudo critical thinker) or a physical science or political philosophy that also is seen as sacred and beyond criticism or evaluation by any other subjects. So, this is not limited to religion in any way.
I hope the three categories of vulgar believer, that really understands nothing and follows a few slogans to the sophisticate believer that understands a subject just as superior to others and might understand it from the inside better than the vulgar believer but not really fully to the critical believer who understands the subject they study and the content in the subject and that other subjects are worthwhile for analyzing the subject in question illustrate how approaches to subjects determine or prejudice understandings that are achieved.
Richard Paul also described indoctrination as producing people that just comply with feeding back what is told to people in indoctrination without even needing to really comprehend the subject or terms. He described indoctrination as producing no understanding of terms or a superficial understanding.
Richard Paul described content as something we produce by the reasoning mind, conceived and constructed by the reasoning mind and one hundred percent dependent on thinking.
People often say they have no time to foster thinking with the content they need to instruct people in. They are describing the rote memorization that is briefly used to just feed back information that is only fed back then forgotten.
In earlier systems like Bloom's taxonomy knowledge is meant to occur before evaluation. Richard Paul believes this is backwards and only results in brief memorization.
Thinking requires organization of information. All new ideas must fit the existing system of ideas and a mind must change its own content to adapt to needs.
Students must understand the logic of their thinking because it affects their ability to take on any content. To Paul the system in any subject isn't nature to the mind and so it takes discipline to take on the thinking required in any subject, it's difficult and not normal for people to seek the truth.
Paul sees his intellectual standards as naturally required for all thinking in all situations for all subjects, that is why they are universal. They are minimum criteria he feels are necessary.
We need clarity, accuracy, relevance, depth, breadth, precision, logic, significance and fairness in our thinking. Imagine presenting something that is unclear, inaccurate, irrelevant, shallow, too narrow minded, imprecise, illogical, insignificant and unfair. It would have no logical cohesion.
Reasoning is the attempt to figure something out in a way that displays the intellectual standards. They are natural criteria.
He feels the standards come from the logic of language, which requires clarity and accuracy, he emphasized the importance of understanding terms that apply to reasoning that are relevant.
He emphasized that most words must remain unchanging if we make a case for changing some words. He says words must be used carefully like indoctrination and training and education, they don't mean the same thing.
He says you must use words carefully to think clearly.
He said discipline requires a standard to conform to. Whether it is a sport or art or other discipline. He said you wouldn't understand a language if you had your own private language.
He described the logic of questions as also being a part of the origin of the logic of the standards. A legal question has standards from the law while a moral question has moral standards as the standards for examination.
He described questions of fact as having right and wrong answers and questions of reasoned judgement have a better and worse answer while questions of personal preference have a different answer possible for each person.
He quoted a description of math instruction today as being fraudulent. It is just getting people to plug numbers in equations with no further understanding.
He described the logic of historical reasoning as never occurring in instruction in history.
The logic of reality is the third as being the third component of the logic of the student.
He described the contrast between chemistry which consults the logic of reality and depends on it and astrology which doesn't. Astrology consults it's own unverifiable internal non-reality based system and seeks to maintain that system.
He described the ultimate question for a critical thinker as do you confirm your system to the logic of reality or do you conform reality to your system.
He said if reality isn't what you are trying to conform to your thinking will be deeply flawed.
He said if you try to conform your thinking to reality you are a critical believer. Whether Christian, mathematician, sociologist, American, or whatever. They understand they can make mistakes and the system can make a mistake and they can make a mistake within the system. The system can be falsifiable.
He said if students don't see something to discipline their reasoning to then they won't be critical thinkers. He described the difference between beliefs and knowledge. He said educators should work to get students that can achieve knowledge through their reasoning and that anyone can believe but belief doesn't require reasoning and understanding.
He described disciplines as being constructed by reasoning. He referred to disciplines like anthropology and sociology and biology. He said there are many questions which no discipline has yet answered. There are many questions which have not even been asked yet. He said education is concerned with developing the mind to be able to answer the questions.
He said it is only the uneducated mind that is impressed with how much is known, "the more you know the more you know you don't know" was his description. He said it takes reasoning and precise use of language to see that.
He described getting students to understand and apply the intellectual standards of critical thinking as a tremendous challenge. It's a paradigm shift.
He said this is a lifetime endeavor. He recommended looking up the terms for the standards in a good dictionary. He emphasized the differences between the standards and the interrelationships between the standards.
He said the logic of learning is the logic of somebody's thinking. He said in teaching you should get lots of questions. No questions means no understanding because if you understand something you see unanswered questions not addressed.
He described using questions to encourage students to think more broadly within disciplines and stretching the breadth of what students think of, bit by bit and very gradually.
He said this paradigm is resisted by people that deeply believe in the other paradigm of giving information that is fed back with a little critical thinking thrown in and that critical thinking cannot effectively be taught by people that don't practice it.
There are people that assume critical thinking is always there when it isn't at all. Their only standard is memorization of material and feeding it back.
That concludes my summing up of the lecture. I give it my absolute highest possible recommendation. It has more sound reason than EVERYTHING in Scientology. It truly exposes the stark difference between a real critical thinker and Ronald Hubbard. I believe everyone can benefit from seeing this video.
The work of Richard Paul in critical thinking is too notch in my opinion. I endorse it and feel his books are worth looking at.
Okay, now for my two cents. Veteran Scientologists will see many if not all my points coming, bear with me, I am going to try to cover all my bases.
First off the indoctrination in Scientology obviously encourages vulgar believers at first. You are instantly taught that your difficulties or confusions regarding study are always due to no contradictions or errors in the doctrine in Scientology but always due to fictional barriers to study.
You get doctrine with hundreds of contradictions and unclear terms, unclear and contradictory definitions as well. You have extensive Orwellian reversals. Not here euphemisms these words and phrases say the opposite of what they describe in Scientology, of what actually is done.
There are dozens and dozens of slogans in Scientology. They function as thought stopping cliches as Robert Jay Lifton described. The loaded language from his right criteria for thought reform serve as the language of non thought as Lifton put it. Exactly what you use to equip vulgar believers.
Long term Scientologists can achieve a degree of sophisticate belief as Richard Paul described it. It lacks the good cohesion believers in most other disciplines achieve because it has so many inconsistencies and lacks any logic of reality in many aspects. It has so many poorly defined terms and thousands of interconnected terms that all link one to another and another to form chains of hundreds of poorly and inconsistently defined terms that create a kind of fog of the mind.
The sophisticate believer level is really the highest level of thinking Scientology lends itself to. Scientology is presented as far superior to life itself. It's presented as being beyond criticism with criticism being automatically seen as irrefutable proof that the critic has hidden crimes of serious magnitude promoting all criticism. Doubt in Scientology is seen as a lower condition by Scientologists. Questions regarding doctrine are always interpreted as demonstrating something to address regarding the student having a deficiency in understanding or character.
The system is designed to defend itself preemptively by attacking all other systems. It has a method to invalidate and counter all ideas that disagree with Scientology including study technology and false data stripping. Of course subjects that contradict Scientology like psychology are even attacked in the materials preparing the student before they start the false data stripping procedure. Numerous experts in politics, economics, psychiatry, theology and many other subjects are thoroughly attacked in Scientology doctrine to establish that as the only subject far, far above all others.
It's not an exaggeration to say criticism of Scientology is sacrilegious to Scientologists. It violates what Robert Jay Lifton described as the sacred science, a doctrine that is treated as entirely logical and scientific by believers but if any inconsistencies or failures in logic are brought up the doctrine is immediately treated as too sacred to be doubted.
Hubbard designed it as an extension of his identity and incredibly defensive of itself and always attacking all other systems. Not an inch of room for critical thinking there.
Recall - We need clarity, accuracy, relevance, depth, breadth, precision, logic, significance and fairness in our thinking. Imagine presenting something that is unclear, inaccurate, irrelevant, shallow, too narrow minded, imprecise, illogical, insignificant and unfair. It would have no logical cohesion.
Well Scientology lacks clarity, accuracy, relevance, depth, breadth, precision, logic, significance and fairness. It is unclear, inaccurate, irrelevant, shallow, too narrow minded, imprecise, illogical, insignificant and unfair. It has no logical cohesion.
Outsiders that do not believe in and practice Scientology cannot understand why people believe in it. In several blog posts on psychology I have taken on how Scientologists interpret mental and physical phenomena as evidence that Hubbard's doctrine is true. Lifton in his system, the eight criteria for thought reform, described it as mystical manipulation.
Several systems outside Scientology can interpret or explain weaknesses and inconsistencies in Scientology far better than anything in Scientology. Aspects of psychology address this and seeing principles and techniques in Scientology as being plagiarized from hypnosis is a use of that system or cultic studies to understand Scientology. But Scientology preemptively discredited everything and everyone else.
Really from a critical thinking standpoint Scientology is a total mess. Richard Paul would easily point out the lack of reality based beliefs in Scientology. Scientology requires members to conform reality to fit Hubbard's system.
Regarding the logic of language Hubbard inverts it. He used his own made up language jam packed with contradictions and inconsistencies and thought stopping cliches as Lifton called it, the language of non thought as he termed it.
Hubbard was always extremely impressed with his own mind and knowledge and impressed this attitude upon Scientologists. Arrogance is deadly to critical thinking.
As the materials in Scientology inspire questions on course the Scientology student rapidly learns questions lead to word clearing and so students learn to stifle all questions which nips critical thinking in the bud. No independent thinking in Scientology.
In Scientology Socratic questions have no place, Socratic debate has no place. Everything is authority and obedience based. That's it.
Really if we look at all the concepts Richard Paul brought up for good critical thinking regarding instruction and teaching and the reality of Scientology point by point the critical thinking model of Richard Paul exposes Scientology as pseudoscience and inadequate as a serious subject of any kind.
if I just understood and really applied the ideas from the video by Richard Paul I would have been effectively inoculated from Scientology.
I am sure other people can think of other points that this description exposes. Scientology is just jam packed with them.
I hope lots of people from all different backgrounds look at the critical thinking framework by Richard Paul and his videos and books. I hope to make it first nature for the rest of my life.