﻿John and Julie, your two best friends, have just read an article about the death penalty. It explains the reasons why death by lethal injection is a legitimate punishment for certain crimes.
As Julie reads the article, she strongly agrees with what the author has to say. “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” she imagines. Without examining the ideas that are involved, she’s
satisfied with everything the article says because, “It’s only fair.”
John, on the other hand, is deeply offended before he’s even finished reading the article. He leans heavily on the feeling
that God has the only power to decide someone’s fate, not man. “It’s not right to interfere with another person’s existence on Earth,” he thinks to himself as he keeps reading.
and John don’t know is that they’ve both used some habits
that hinder thinking to come up with their opinions. They both had strong initial feelings about the death penalty. And
they both finished with those same feelings because they were the most satisfying. But Julie and John failed to try to learn about their opposing opinion. Without even realizing it, they both
became victims of thobbing.
Henshaw Ward termed thobbing for considering and evaluating ideas. “The term combines the th from thinking, the o from opinion, and the b from believing” (qtd. in Ruggiero 53). You can be aware of when you are thobbing by paying close attention to your initial opinions, especially the ones that are very strong.
There are many habits that can hinder one’s thinking, causing their mind to fall victim to thobbing. Julie and John both used conformity and resistance to change, and rationalizing habits
when coming up with an opinion about the death penalty article.
In The Art of Thinking, Ruggiero states that “harmful conformity is what we do instead of thinking in order to belong to a group or to avoid the risk of being different. Such conformity is
an act of cowardice, a sacrifice of indepedence for a lesser good(49).
Julie and John may have been conforming when they developed their opinions about the article on the death penalty. They had probably dealt with the argument before and were exposed
to other people’s opinions. Then when they came across this article, they were most satisfied with the belief they were familiar with. They remembered the other people’s attitudes and conformed.
John belongs to a church where he practices his belief in Christianity. At his church last
Sunday, his pastor preached about how death is not a punishment that can be handled and administered by people. John listened to the message and accepted it very comfortably. When he
later read the article, he resisted to understand the information it gave that would change his opinion. This is called resistance to change.
One of the reasons why people resist to change is fear. When someone doesn’t want to change, they are afraid of the risk of ending up in a less comfortable situation than their current
one. Julie had lived in Washington since she was born. When a college in California accepted her, she turned it down and decided to go to a local college. She was apprehensive of the risks of not liking a new environment, and not fitting in. Julie resisted to change.
Another habit that can interfere with someone’s thinking is rationalizing. Honest reasoning can be easily confused with rationalizing sometimes. An easy way to tell the difference is to
examine the purpose in how you come up with your opinion. If you analyze the argument before you make up your mind, you are reasoning. But if you make up your mind first, then select information from the argument that supports your decision, you are rationalizing.
Julie and John both had decided what they were going to believe as soon as they knew what the argument was about. Then they selected evidence from the article to justify their opinion.
Metacognition, or thinking about your thinking, is a good habit to pick up because it can lessen your chance of becoming a victim of thobbing. Recognize your initial strong feelings you
get when faced with an argument. Instead of going along with them and believing they are right, be open minded to the evidence that lay ahead. After gathering all the information, use honest reasoning to make up your mind.
Thobbing is using habits that hinder thinking instead of actually thinking. Like John and Julie, who both read the article on the death penalty and thobbed instead of thought, we all fall
into using these habits. Instead of using conformity, resistance to change, or rationalizing next time you are faced with an argument, reason your ideas and evidence. This will save you from being a victim to thobbing.
Ruggiero, Vincent Ryan. The Art of Thinking: A Guide to Critical and Creative Thought. 1998
Addision-Wesley Educational Publishers Inc.