BYH, have the courage to be disliked....

Critical thinking


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

A main professorial goal of mine is to inspire critical thought. This is why I appreciated Jeffrey Mathis’ March 24 letter. Mr. Mathis stated, with regard to the truth of information, “If your first reaction to a statement is: “I didn’t know that!” then your next reaction should be: “Let me check that out.” The letter appears to have evolved from his concern that the new norm is, “Read it and believe it.”

This overlaps with less commonly understood research I learned about by reading Annie Duke’s new book, “Thinking in Bets” and Daniel Gilbert’s 1991 and 1993 research about how we form beliefs. Rene Descartes promoted the traditional understanding that beliefs come about after we assess information learned. In contrast, Baruch Spinoza suggested we automatically believe new information after we hear and understand it until we find or are made aware of contradictory information.

Gilbert’s research suggests Spinoza’s work, rather than that of Descartes, is more accurate about how beliefs are formed. It also appears that evolution supports Spinoza’s assertion of Descartes that beliefs are formed automatically. Before speech, our beliefs were created by seeing something and believing it. Failing to automatically believe what we saw until it was assessed would have been deadly. With the development of speech for communication, evolution as is typically done, used its existing procedure of automatically believing information obtained before it was assessed for accuracy.

Our innate self-serving bias means we all want our belief’s to be accurate. More accurate beliefs enable us to have and live a better life, something we all desire. This information suggests we should follow Mr. Mathis’s critical thinking advice to “…check that (new information) out!” Before we believe it.

Craig M. Becker



Humans of Greenville


Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.


October 15, 2019

In his article it appears that Bill Redding in his letter (Don’t mix religion, politics, Oct 10) is deriding both Mr. Graham and President Trump for their religious beliefs. He is right that, only God can fix our problems, but he works through the efforts of his people as they do his will.…

October 14, 2019

When I go to the grocery store and buy a dozen eggs in a foam plastic carton, I always open the carton and check the eggs before I put them in my grocery cart. It is not that I think the grocery store would short change me, but I am investing some of my family money and need to check the eggs.


October 13, 2019

I can't remember a Republican politician ever admitting to being wrong about anything, or apologizing for any lousy deed he or she might have done.

Then comes former Republican Congressman Joe Walsh, who in the past lied nearly every time he opened his mouth. He made up lies about Obama/Democrats.…

October 13, 2019

I am in agreement with Nikki Haley, former ambassador to the UN, that President Trump’s victories are a big win for every America — unless you are a member of the Democratic/Communist party that is.

Our great president is working hard every day to make America more safe, more prosperous…

October 12, 2019

At the suggestion of my wife, we moved from Raleigh to Greenville two years ago this week. It was a great suggestion and we have loved being a part of this community.

After almost 40 years in Raleigh, Greenville is a nice change of pace. From what I read in the Daily Reflector, I am not sure that…

October 10, 2019

Opportunity exists for youth to develop their math skills, their problem-solving skills, and their social skills. The means for these desirable outcomes isn’t magic, it’s bridge.

Bridge is an excellent tool to develop critical thinking and inferential reasoning, plus it gives the youth…

October 10, 2019

Franklin Graham made a return visit to Greenville after 21 years and said that the "nation’s problems are spiritual" and "only God can solve it." Donald Trump said at the 2016 Republican National Convention "I alone can fix it".

If Graham thinks the nation’s problems are spiritual, why…

October 09, 2019

As I write, Turkey has begun military operations along Syria’s’ northern border against Kurds they characterize as “terrorists” but whom we embraced as “allies” in our war on ISIS and its caliphate. Moreover, those Kurds did much more than “stand…

October 09, 2019

In reading Sunday’s public forum, Dedan Waciuri from Greenville went on a rampage attacking white men, but I guess he’s not racist since he’s black talking about a white person in this tone.

He pointed to an incident to where a white person was arrested walking down Biltmore…

October 08, 2019

Color TV on CBS has changed to “black and white” with Monday night’s new schedule. I am not referring to reprises of the Dick Van Dyke series, or the Beverly Hillbillies — not even I Love Lucy.

I’m referring to its fall primetime lineup. First comes The Neighbor, a…

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