February 17, 2016

440 words 3 mins read

Surface thinking, deep thinking

How people responded to yesterday’s post, Maybe he’s not a conservative, varied. But there were two dominant types.

Surface thinkers ignored most of the content. I warned you about this early on. I decided against a deep examination of conservatism because people don’t care. Instead, I wrote a rather tongue-in-cheek story about why definitions of conservatism don’t matter.

Deep thinkers got the tongue-in-cheek shtick. Maybe they rolled their eyes at my cheap attempt at being clever. Maybe they said, “yeah, well I still won’t vote for Greitens.” Or maybe they just said, “Hennessy does this all the time. Big deal.” A few kind souls laughed out loud and rewarded my effort with a tweet. Any of those responses show that you actually read and thought about the story.

Surface thinkers gave a different response. Some took my opening paragraphs as proof that I’ve turned against Greitens. Others argued that they don’t consider Greitens a conservative. Some complained that Greitens doesn’t talk about things they’d like to talk about. All legitimate conversations, but they have nothing to do with my story.

Here’s what’s crazy: it’s impossible for surface thinkers to see beyond their reaction. And it’s just as hard for deep thinkers to understand how surface thinkers missed the point. Deep thinkers who read some of the surface thinker responses assume the surface thinkers were being sly. They weren’t. They were being sincere. They just didn’t get the story.

My experiment is like the picture that might be an old hag or might be a beautiful young woman. Say you can see both women. If someone sees only one of the two possibilities, you can’t make them see the other one. And you can’t understand why they can’t see both. You might even think there’s something wrong with them.

my wife and my mother-in-law

And I’m not making any assumption about the intelligence of either group. There’s no reason to believe deep thinkers are smarter than shallow thinkers. They just think in different ways.

Also, when I say “deep thinkers,” I don’t mean people pondered my brilliance for hours. There was no brilliance there to uncover. Sure, I intended the post to create one of two reactions, but it’s not a deep, profound post. It’s just a test.

Want to know which group you’re in?

If your gut reaction was to try to prove Greitens is or is not a conservative, you’re surface thinking. If your reaction was anything else (even “who cares?” you’re deep thinking. At least in relation to that post.

BONUS MENTAL GAME: This is for deep thinkers only. Try to rewrite my original post to prove Greitens fits the definition of conservative.