Everyone’s a Critic

Amidst the turbulent political events of this past week or so, I am conscious of the value of one thing in particular – the ability to think critically. People who know me may know I’m a big fan of the movie: Idiocracy (If you have never watched it, you need to!), which contemplates a world devoid of the ability to think critically (or at all, for that matter). It’s both satirical and frightening.

Critical thinking’ is defined as disciplined thinking that is clear, rational, open-minded, and informed by evidence.

A culture without critical thinking skills is vulnerable to ‘groupthink’ and ‘altfacts’ (BIMwash, anyone?). Social media right now is awash with people’s opinions (of varying persuasions) but few people these days will toil to get to the real facts. I’m guilty of this myself, with dozens of web browser tabs open at any one time, and an increasingly shorter attention span. Too often, amidst other distractions, I will form a view on something that may be true or not, but is formed nonetheless merely on the bits and pieces that I’ve read.

One of the things we value at BILT is the ‘warts and all, unvarnished truth’ paradigm. By presenting ourselves and our lessons learned with honesty and sincerity, we strive for a level of authenticity which promotes real learning and allows speakers and attendees alike to think critically.

When someone describes another’s work product (e.g. a model) as ‘crap’, this is mostly a useless statement. But what’s really going on behind the claim? When someone articulates why they feel this way, the claim can be reviewed critically, and honestly. Some bases for such a claim may be subjective, some may have merit, and some may actually reveal issues with the claimant. However if we don’t encourage this kind of honest discussion and problem-solving mindset amongst those in our industry, we risk descending back to old, siloed, adversarial habits of launching grenades and ill-informed diatribes.

As a community of people from the AECO industry, BILT actively encourages disciplined thinking that is clear, rational, open-minded, and informed by evidence.

Let’s all fight to develop, use and preserve this ability.

I look forward to many opportunities to practice critical thinking with you in Adelaide in May 2017.  Registrations are now open!

Image credits: “The Thinker” (Public Domain) by Mustang Joe

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