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Thinking about Thinking
by Jayj Jacobs

Here are some of my current thoughts about thinking.

I invite you all to think about where and how they apply to recent conversations, to astrology in general, to (western/global) society as a whole, and to life as a process.

Bad thinking is bad for astrology. Bad thinking, or not thinking, is bad for everyone.

If one accepts anything without question s/he is not thinking.

If the premise is not grounded in factual or experiential reality the conclusions are meaningless. That's the classic GIGO: Garbage In, Garbage Out. Jacobs' GOGI Corollary is: If Garbage came Out, then Garbage went In.

If the conclusions do not follow from the premises one is engaged in poor reasoning. I call that bad thinking.

If the precognitive mindset is impervious to contradictory input one is not thinking. That's prior opinions blinding one to reality.

If one thinks they know everything, and have nothing to learn, relearn or unlearn, then they have stopped thinking.

Knowledge can be divided into what you know, what you know you don't know, what you don't know you don't know, and what you know that just ain't so.

Conclusions are derived from premises. The raw materials of facts, theories and speculations; the machinery of intelligence, including the tools of education and experience; the processes of analysis, discrimination, and synthesis; all these are (overly) influenced by the pre-existing premises which were determined by prior conclusions.

A 'slip of the mind' is less dangerous than a poor foundation for thinking. Where one 'thinks from' is at least as influential as how one thinks and what one thinks about.

All Thinking occurs within a socio-cultural context. The parameters of that context include one's familial, ethnic, economic, geographic, environmental, political, religious, metaphysical, scientific-technological, physical and educational, heritage and current condition. Most people don't know enough about what influences their thinking to think freely, originally, or clearly. The 'Great Conversation' between the 'Great Thinkers' of the 'Great Cultures' as recorded in the 'Great Books' of the whole world -- as reported and/or translated by various media -- defines & structures that context.

"To err is human," but to persist in error requires an attitude. Without correction there is no progress. Therefore correction is contribution.

Anything said about opinions can be validly said about beliefs.

Opinions are not facts. Opinions about facts are not facts. Opinions are not experiences. Opinions about experiences are not experiences.

Opinions, if not grounded in facts or experiences, are prejudices. That makes them bigoted preconceptions. 'Pre-conceptions' come before thinking has occurred; holding to them means one is not thinking.

Opinions and preconceptions are below stereotypes in a cognitive hierarchy. Stereotypes are pretty low, (and dangerous), but at least they are based in a grain of truth, since blown out of proportion.

Some opinions are totally baseless. Others are totally base.

Everyone has a right to their opinion. Having an opinion, even having the right to an opinion, does not make the opinion right.

No one is qualified, by reasons of knowledge & experience, to form an opinion about everything. Everyone faces something about which they are not qualified to form an opinion. Some are not qualified to form an opinion about anything. That stops very few people from forming an opinion.

"In my humble opinion" is an oxymoron. It shouldn't be.

Some opinions are better than others. Only the non-thinking credit the opinions of idiots and assholes (technical terms).

It is bad thinking to credit the opinions of jerks, students, amateurs, the minimally competent, or anyone else, in the face of a contrary declaration by a virtuoso or a master -- in that field. It is also bad thinking to assume that only recognized experts have valid insights.

Expertise is not transferable from one subject to another.

The majority is not always right. The minority is not always wrong. Neither is the reverse true. That person with the unique insight may be on to something. Or not.

Confidence is unrelated to correctness. Certainty is not the same as accuracy.

Every assertion of fact, or basis for belief or opinion, carries an implicit promise to produce credible evidence for the assertion.

One cannot prove anything without establishing agreed-upon criteria for acceptable, credible evidence. Without agreement on what constitutes evidence, one cannot agree on what constitutes proof. We hold our own truths to be self-evident. All others must provide references.

It cannot be true that you are always correct. (or always wrong). That's not true of anyone.

They may be your ideas; but you are not your ideas.

Every idea increases in certainty (often without regard to merit). The thrust of every hypothesis, belief, opinion, or rumor is toward an absolute. [That's 'Jacobs' Law of Increasing Certainty' from "What If? The Thrust of Hypothesis" in Astrology Now, #22, Oct 1978, Edited by Noel Tyl]

If not carefully checked with reasonable skepticism; if not reined in by demands for credible evidence; if not examined as to premises, materials and thought processes; if not trimmed by Occam's Razor; and/or not critiqued by "Jayj's Codswallop Detector" [see The Wholistic Astrologer, #1, May 1998] the world of ideas will be overrun with scams, hoaxes, foibles, and follies -- the fallacious, fictitious, and factitious.

Some ideas, beliefs, and opinions are real viruses; some are like computer viruses; others are like computer virus hoaxes. Actual damage may vary.

And then there are the chain-letter-like opinions and pleas that just use up bandwidth and eat electrons.

In the absence of certain facts, or sufficient evidence, one is free to believe or speculate. But it's bad thinking to not recognize when one is doing so.

Since knowledge & wisdom -- along with opinions and beliefs -- are tools for the sake of a better life, the true test of any theory, belief or opinion is the affect or impact it has on the quality of one's life. And others'.

What does believing that, or thinking that way, do for you? What value does it produce in your life?

Facts are facts. They are not subject to the above Pragmatism Paradigm. They just are. Existence is. Interpretations vary.

Think about your thinking.

And think about the premises, processes, content and conclusions of those around you.

Copyright 1999 by Jayj Jacobs

All Rights Reserved

This article was first posted to the Festival mailing list, Dec 1999. It was subsequently published in
The Wholistic Astrologer, Issue #3, Feb-Apr 2000.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: JAYJ JACOBS became a full-time professional astrologer when he moved from Hawai'i to San Francisco in 1972. He 'discovered' astrology through his father, Don 'Moby Dick The Astrologer' Jacobs, at age 15 in 1964. He began his studies in psychology & linguistics at about the same time. Jayj's serious & witty articles, on a wide variety of subjects, have appeared in 'Astrology Now', 'Aspects', and many others, including Australia's 'The Cosmic Experience'. He has also contributed to three Llewellyn anthologies, most recently to "Sexuality in the Horoscope". Jayj is the recipient of the UAC'98 Regulus Award for Community Service and is a co-founder of AFAN & the longest serving member of its Steering Committee. He is also the Founder & Self-Appointed President-For-Life of the Professional Society of Humorous Astrologers Worldwide - PSHAW. His Captain Color characters & quips are renowned on many Internet astrology lists. Contact Jayj by e-mail at: JayjJacobs@aol.com and visit his website: Experience Astrology at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/experience_astrology

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