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Dennis Joiner’s Let The Playing Field Level The Playing Field is a book for curious and mature minds that discusses serious concepts and the importance of a skeptical mindset.

Without being aware of it, propaganda bombards people every day. Whether it is from the news, advertising, or simply the conversations everyone has–propaganda is quite pervasive. In its most meticulous form, propaganda directly strikes at the most basic assumptions of people. But propaganda, by itself, is nothing dangerous. 

It only becomes dangerous when people start thinking it is essential and immutable. When people have their minds stuck on a certain point of view, that is when propaganda becomes dangerous.

That is why you need to have a skeptical mindset.

What is a skeptical mindset?

Being certain is a good thing when trying to make a decision. If you are being wishy-washy about something, it’s best to take a step back. Really evaluate your course of action. 

But when it comes to viewing the world and acquiring information, it is very normal to be more percipient. This means that one must have a skeptical mindset. Acknowledging that what you know will change, especially when new information and data sets arrive, is important.

You see, while certainty helps, believing that certainty is permanent becomes a detriment. This leads to a lot of people believing that the world is flat, vaccines do not work, climate change does not exist, and a whole medley of absurd conspiracy theories with no concrete grounding.

Firm rationality, an innovative worldview, and critical thinking is traditionally associated with the skeptical mindset.

The benefits of being skeptical.

The problem with today is that, perhaps intentionally or unintentionally, people are being told to delve deeper into self-help guides and follow a positive thinking mindset. While seemingly innocuous and harmless, insisting on both can be very deleterious in the long run.

This is because both involve having to shut your mind out and only working with what limited information and biases are swirling in your head. The mind is not a closed system and demands interaction with the outside world if it is to improve itself and be further refined into a tool for logic and rationality.

Because of the popularity of pop psychology and mainstream self-help literature, the importance of rational thought is slowly being eroded in favor of conformist or self-indulgent ideology.

By being more skeptical about things and more open to new information and novel ideas, one can become: 

  • More creative. A skeptical mindset helps in loosening up age-old biases and preconceived notions. By interrogating one’s preferences and base assumptions, one opens up to a wider range of possibilities and impulses. Where you would instinctually choose red over other colors, skepticism compels you to examine the context and helps you determine whether or not you should continue with your creative decisions. Skepticism pushes you to look at things from another angle and develop new ways of approaching things.
  • More meticulous. Having a skeptical mindset helps you in being more discriminating about your decisions and your motivations in doing so. Sometimes, people tend to act now and ask questions later. Skepticism helps you do the opposite: asking questions now and acting later when all the possible information is already accounted for. What’s more, being skeptical forces the mind to throw away assumptions and drives you to be thorough in scrutinizing things. Skepticism pushes you to be more critical of your own judgment and be wary of arrogance and conceitedness.
  • More open-minded. While having a few axiomatic positions is important to actually navigate the world, there are some things that people take for granted as true and valid without ever applying a healthy dose of skepticism. This leads to arbitrarily limiting one’s options and connections for no clear reason at all. Skepticism pushes you to be more objective with your choices and become more sympathetic to other values and experiences.

If you want to learn how to develop a skeptical mindset and be more aware of the way broader society functions, Dennis Joiner’s book for curious and mature minds, Let The Playing Field Level The Playing Field, is an extremely beneficial learning tool.

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