Amazon Comes to My Client’s Rescue – Don’t Believe Everything You Think, by Thomas Kida

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By on October 2, 2013 8:50 pm Leave your thoughts

I am pleased that someone was kind enough to ghost write this blog article for me. It is by the spouse of a client. The client was facing a petition for transfer of custody because of some rather “whacky” views his wife was espousing. Confidentiality prevents my providing any details, but this is posted with express permission of its author. The spouse is not crazy, and is college educated, but that is not a substitute for critical thinking. The person encountered the typical apocalyptic predictions we hear from Glen Beck or the commercials on satellite radio, so began to research these predictions on the Internet. Before you begin such a journey, I suggest you read this review, and this book, and tie a big rope around your waist. The Internet is not a safe place for the naïve . I have posted this book report as a review on Amazon.com.  

I am also pleased to post an example of how my reading outside my profession has helped me help a client. Critical thinking and debunking of supernatural and unscientific views is a theme in my writing. I have a loose affiliation with the Church of the Spaghetti Monster and a huge dose of skepticism of anything that is too good or too bad to be true. I have assigned three books to my client’s spouse and requested a book report. I posted the three books to my professional Facebook Page a few weeks ago. Here is my client’s mate’s report; pretty good if I do say so:

Book Report by (My client’s spouse)
Don’t Believe Everything You Think
By Thomas Kida
                 This book is about how we make many mistakes in our thought processes and how we have a tendency to lean toward believing what is false rather than what is true, stories rather than statistics, and try and confirm our own preconceived ideas rather than be open-minded and learn the truth about certain topics.
                 Chapter 1 is about weird beliefs and not thinking scientifically. It shows many examples on how people have chosen to believe “mystical” or “supernatural” things instead of seeking the truth and analyzing things through scientific method prior to belief and/or action. This type of belief system is called Pseudoscientific thinking and is a common mistake for many, if not most, people including myself.
                 Chapter 2 is about being skeptical to extraordinary claims and examining the evidence thoroughly before coming to a conclusion and especially before acting upon the conclusion. We must consider several hypothesis to each claim and determine the best and most probably (and realistic) hypothesis before believing.
                 Chapter 3 helps you to learn how to think like a scientist.  A claim or a belief must be tested by gathering all the evidence and confirmed only through successive and very controlled tests, preferably with different subjects and conditions and the results should lead to the same conclusions based on facts and recorded events.
                 Chapter 4 is about how chance and coincidence play a large role in daily events and interactions. It helps to show how we have a tendency to put a reason on everything that we see happen and also how we try and put a pattern to things, which can lead to trying to predict the future (such as future wars and disasters, stocks, sports, etc..). This can lead to believing in many superstitious things.
                 Chapter 5 is about seeing things that aren’t there, which means that instead of accepting linked events similar only by chance and coincidence, we look for a greater meaning or force behind the events and try and rationalize the meaning to why this has happened or is happening. Thinking this way can lead to hallucinations and even mass hysteria and has before in the past. This leads people to take action on beliefs that are completely false and self-realized.
                 Chapter 6 continues examining the thought patterns that lead us to look for underlying causes to events and ignore the coincidences that happen, but expands to show how  this pattern of thinking leads us to train ourselves to make connections that are imagined. We must look at the statistics with these such beliefs and the true events that can be linked together to see how our thought patterns can lead us to imagine these connections and how random chance calculations can attest for most if not all of these occurrences.
                 Chapter 7 is about how we try and predict the future, not only by looking into bible prophecy and predictions from people such as Nostradamus, but also in regards to things such as the economy, the stock market, and the environment. Bible prophecy and predictions are so vague that it is easy to make many things “fit” into their predictions. This is why we have a tendency to learn from the “experts” regarding these prophecies and predictions and yet each one teaches a different outcome of the same prophecies than the others do.
                 Chapter 8 helps to explain how we seek to confirm our pre-conceived ideas, or what we already believe. Rather than look at facts with an open mind, we have a tendency to look at what confirms our beliefs and ignore the things that don’t, yet claiming to have an open mind willing to accept any and all conclusions. We must truly look at the facts and statistics with a logical and rational mind and come to the conclusion that is based upon only these facts and not what our pre-conceived ideas and belief systems lead us to.
                 Chapter 9 helps to show how we also simplify our thinking so that we ignore many facts and events that would normally lead us to the correct conclusions given a situation. This way of thinking can also lead us to jump to conclusions too early and also to stereotype others. To come to the best conclusions, besides testing claims and theories scientifically, we must take our time and collect as much data as we can, not over-simplifying complex decisions.
                 Chapter 10 is about framing problems and solutions based on the way we perceive the problem. If we view things a certain way we could make a completely different decision than if we viewed them another way. One of the big factors that affects the way we frame decisions is the way that the data is presented to us. This is why it is important to look at problems and facts with an open mind from different points of view (or no point of view if possible) before coming to decisions.
                 Chapter 11 explains how we have faulty memories, and even though many people believe that all your past memories are still in your brain somewhere and can be retrieved through hypnosis, it is true that we actually lose memories and forget things entirely especially as we age. The brain can be compared to a computer hard-drive in which as it fills up, it needs to erase or dump memory storage to allow new and recent memories and data to be stored. As we try and remember past events, our minds can alter what really happened as it reconstructs the events so that what is remembered is not what really happened. We can even create fictitious memories based on mental suggestions from external sources.
                 Chapter 12 is about the influence of authority figures and how we have a tendency to believe what the higher percentage of experts believe. Our beliefs and actions can be significantly influenced by experts and authority figures. We tend to be more reliable and consistent when we are accountable to authority figures such as our bosses at work. Evidence that is received from others isn’t very reliable unless we can verify the evidence as true for ourselves.
This book has 6 main points:
1)      We prefer stories to statistics
2)      We seek to confirm, not to question, our ideas (or beliefs)
3)      We rarely appreciate the role of chance and coincidence in shaping events
4)      We sometimes misperceive the world around us
5)      We tend to oversimplify our thinking
6)      We have faulty memories
 
This book has helped me to become much more critical and analytical in my thinking and in choosing what to believe as true. The errors that I made in the past were to stop thinking critically and to believe what was interesting to me as fact rather than to seek the truth for myself. This caused fear and concern for the future to grip me in a way that I was willing to make poor decisions that were based on faulty information, and in doing so I have caused our family harm by putting them through this (unnecessary worry, ed.) Learning the techniques from this book and also going to counseling is helping me to break free of these beliefs and fears and to focus on being a good (spouse and parent, ed.) and concentrating on the present time. These things are helping me to learn not to fear for the safety of our family, but to treat them with the love and respect that would give them a sense of safety and well-being.

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This post was written by Burton Hunter

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