Empathy an Intro

I think its easy to attack without considering the consequences of our actions. It is easy to say something is bad simply because it fails to meet our paradigm of thought. Critical thought is hard, to stay on course with its edicts we must follow its teachings and consider others. It teaches us to explore our thoughts and feelings. To develop an understanding of our ideology and find ways to bridge our world with others. It teaches us to consider the thoughts and feelings of others. To imagine what it is like to be them, so we can treat them fairly based on their circumstance.

What good does any of this do if we don’t know how to apply these teachings to our daily lives? An expert isn’t born, to be proficient in a skill we must practice. Practice is more than memorization, it is exploration and experimentation as well. We can sit behind old books all day learning what the dead say about body language and tonality, but this equates to nothing if we are unwilling to explore our skills.

What is empathy? “the ability to share someone else’s feelings or experiences by imagining what it would be like to be in that person’s situation.” [1]

How do we use the skill of empathy? How can I imagine what it would be like if the situation could never conceivably happen to me? Empathy requires imagination, you must have the ability to see something that doesn’t exist. If imagining something like this is outside of your capacity I suggest exploring a few new hobbies. Consider going to your local hobby store to join a role-playing group, get involved in a game where you can play a character and experience an imaginary world. Perhaps find a local writing group and explore fictional writing or experiment with art. If your mind is no longer in touch with your heart it will be very difficult imagining what it would be like to be in another person’s situation.

Mind Tools presents a good primer to practice empathy.

Empathy at Work [2]

  1. Put aside your viewpoint, and try to see things from the other person’s point of view.
  2. Validate the other person’s perspective.
  3. Examine your attitude.
  4. Listen
  5. Ask what the other person would do.  

I would suggest giving their interpretation of empathy a good read, you can find this article at: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/EmpathyatWork.htm.

Final Thoughts

To empathize with someone, we need to imagine we are them. What would it be like to be them in this situation. If you were them, how would you feel? If you were them, how would you want to be treated?


[1] “Empathy” Dictionary. Cambrdge Dictionary. Web. 12 December 2017. < https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/empathy>

[2] “Empathy at Work” Mind Tools. Web. 12 December 2017. < https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/EmpathyatWork.htm.

MEMEs

Memes aren’t Facts

MEMEs are not Facts.  They can be informative, perhaps even insightful, but they are not good sources of information. Today I am going to show two MEMEs, address their message then apply critical thought to each.

 

MEMEs aren't Facts

The other day I wrote an article about hair care treatment. Why did I write this article? For two reasons: 1. I love to research and 2. I want to promote personal advocacy. To have personal advocacy we must develop our critical thinking skills. Images like the Nioxin vs. Monat vs. Rogaine are underhandedly manipulative, their marketing strategies attempt to trick and intimidate us into buying their products. They do their best to break down our ability to use critical thought. The image encourages us to make a knee jerk reaction and cast away science in favor for pseudoscience.

How does it do this specifically?

  1. It compares apples to oranges – Showcasing ingredients in one column, stating no harmful ingredients or side effects in another, then showing side effects in the final column.
  2. It manipulates our perception – by placing their product in the center of the image, surrounded by negative space it compels us to feel safer with it over the complicated and scary jargon of the other products. It tells us their product has no harmful ingredients and no side effects while presenting the others in an inferior and negative light. Finally, it scares us with bold red words and exclamation points!
  3. It unfairly represents the three products – By providing inaccurate or incomplete data on each product they stack the deck in favor of Monat.

"big pharma" stereotype

Personal advocacy requires Hope. I love Hope, she guides me every day in my struggle against the crushing weight of the world. Hope is the ATP in the muscles of Atlas as he holds the earth above his head. We need more than Hope to protect us from the harmful manipulations of others. Hope must be accompanied by critical thought, this Wisdom grants us the sight to see through lies and manipulations, to search for truth and protect ourselves from falsehoods.

The next topic I would like to discuss is the abuse of stereotypes and the danger of unchecked bias.

I had conversation on Facebook the other week about bias and stereotypes. Everyone has bias, which is fine, however when we allow our bias to interfere with treating others fairly that is when we have failed to effectively critically think.

The above MEME was discussed, the original poster asked if this quote was true: “a patient cured is a customer lost”

My reply was chemotherapy might not be right for everyone, but it has saved many lives. That we should be wary of sources that apply negative generalizations about large groups of people.

I have encountered many who are against chemotherapy and the pharmaceutical companies. When they tell me “there is no money in a cure” I ask them two questions, 1. How many kinds of cancer are there and 2.  name 5 big pharmaceutical companies and the chemotherapy drugs they manufacture.

The information given and the sources they cite is an important indication to the amount of time they have researched and how effective they utilize critical thought. For example, someone using Wikipedia or a MEME as source for information may lack critical researching skills. Perhaps they know how to research but they are not concerned with using evidence-based data, maybe they embrace pseudoscience or simply make judgements based on feelings.

Critical thought teaches us to acknowledge our bias, to set it aside, to be fair and treat others for their qualities, rather than the actions of people unrelated to them. It is unfair to apply blanket opinions on other groups of people. When these blanket opinions are applied they create a stereotype which creates an atmosphere of unfairness.

Each pharmaceutical company is an organization comprised of dozens, hundreds even thousands of employees. There are dozens of pharmaceutical companies, how fair is it to say these people are concerned only with making money? Not all people are the same, not all companies are the same.

Instead of making blanket statements about groups of people you don’t know, research each company and judge them individually. Just like people, the ideology of one pharmaceutical company will change, one to the next.

Final Thoughts

Perhaps the next time we read a MEME and feel strongly about its message, we should consider spending some time to research its validity.