Ideally, we should employ the method of thinking most appropriate for the task, but most of us default to the one that is most familiar. Which of these do you use most often?
- Deductive Thinking: evaluate the validity of a concept based on existing truths. In other words, does the concept fit with what I currently know to be true?
- Inductive Thinking: observe and measure a new concept and then determine if there are patterns or trends which can be tested. This process will eventually lead to a conclusion.
Unless you are a scientist or an inventor, you probably use deductive thinking the most. You determine the truth of a new idea, thought or concept based on what you’ve already accepted to be true.
If someone presents you with an idea, you will accept it only if it doesn’t conflict with what you currently believe. Your concept of the right decision is based entirely on your ability to justify that decision with your underlying belief system.
Do you see any problems with this approach?
From research and experience, let’s say you know that A equals B
If a new idea comes along that says B equals C, then ...
Based on what you already know, A must equals C
It’s impossible to draw any other other conclusion, right?
What if the research was wrong? What if you didn’t have all the information? What if A actually does not equal B?
What If the Underlying Belief Is Wrong?
This is where deductive thinking breaks down. If the underlying belief is wrong, the entire structure crumbles. It becomes impossible to make an accurate analysis of the new idea.
History is filled with examples of this. Galileo, Isaac Newton, Christopher Columbus, the Wright Brothers were all inductive thinkers. They presented ideas that were outside of anything currently known to be true. It was impossible for them to be right because they proposed ideas that could not be verified by existing truths. What happened to them?
They were considered insane!
Yes, we consider them visionaries today, but it was long after they introduced their ideasbefore anyone listened. We’re talking years! In fact, they had to prove they were right! No one was willing to believe them until they put together over-whelming evidence that showed the old way was wrong!
Go Insane Like These Inductive Thinkers!
We live in a critical time in history. In a span of just over a century, we have gone from an isolated, agricultural society to an interconnected global community. We have harnessed the power of electricity, radio waves, electronics and semiconductors.
We are bombarded with information from media sources that continue to intrude further and further into our personal lives. We have learned to formulate our perceptions based on messages from people who want to sell us something.
Do you think this the best we can do? Is it possible that all we are capable of is limited to what we already know? Do you want to limit yourself with deductive thinking?
- Don’t accept things that are unacceptable.
- Don’t believe that something can’t be done because no one else has ever done it.
- Don’t limit yourself with deductive thinking.