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"I feel" does not cut it in today's complex world

Recent conversations remind me of a troubling point. We're in an age dominated by people who begin arguments on virtually every topic with, "Well, I feel..."

This poisonous phrase increasingly passes for valid critical thinking. Such thinking is especially true in America.

It doesn't help to get angry at the “I feel” people for not understanding the basics of logic and reason. Studies show America is falling farther and farther behind in the critical thinking aspects of its education. You have to instead explain how framing most complex issues primarily via "feelings" is a problem. Of course, most people being told this will take it as an accusation that they "think wrong and are stupid" and explode if you even hint at it. I lay the blame for this defensiveness squarely on a society and educational system that over-emphasizes the validity of everyone’s feelings, born of political correctness. Teaching emotional IQ is fine, but it must be done while giving equal weight to the fact that many problems simply do not bend to “feelings.”

I bring this up in a social context. However, I am also seeing more junior employees displaying this emotional imbalance to the detriment of their work in engineering and technology.

I hope educators take action on the discussions about STEM and critical thinking circulating right now. While emotions are important, most issues in our world are becoming so interconnected and complex that "feelings" are not nearly enough. One needs to be in touch with both one's feelings and the toolbox that is critical thinking.

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