Lecture Notes.

Module Three: Session Two

Psychological Barriers to Logical Thinking

  • Egocentrism, Ethnocentrism, and Sociocentrism
    This can be grouped together as "mine is better thinking." My school is better, my car is better, my neighborhood is better, my way of thinking is better.


  • Egocentrism is to focus on one's own self, needs, interests, and so forth. The egocentric person fails to consider others.

Ethnocentrism (or Sociocentrism)

  • Ethnocentrism (or Sociocentrism) is to focus on one's group. "My group is better than your group." "The group I belong to is right (because it's my group)."
  • One's race, religion, ethnic group, culture, family, political group, is considered superior to all others. This can be as benign as believing the '49ers are the greatest team simply because one lives in the Bay Area. It can be as deadly as believing one should drink poisoned Cool Aid because the leader of your group tells you to. "Mine is better" thinking of any kind can cut you off from other perspectives. It can cause you to make poor decisions about political candidates, and so on.
  • Example: "Justice Thomas isn't really black because he doesn't think like a black person." This kind of foolish thinking assumes that African Americans are a monolithic group which should think all the same way.
  • Example: "I know that mine is the one true church." Now it is possible that it is the one true church. But most people who say this "know" it not because they have carefully researched all the relevant information on all sides. Rather, people usually come to believe these things because of emotional reasons, family ties, or just familiarity. Now before you "nonbelievers" start feeling smug, there is nothing different about you. Most people who reject religion are no more thoughtful about it than a religious person. People tend to arrive at their beliefs irrationally, no matter what the belief is.
  • Example: "I believe you Anita." This is a bumper sticker which showed up after the Thomas Hill confirmation hearings. Anita Hill stole the show with her allegation that she was sexually harassed by [then] Judge Thomas. People's acceptance or rejection of Ms. Hill's charges was generally not based on evidence, because the evidence was of the "he said - she said" type. There was no hard evidence. Instead, people who were conservative (as Justice Thomas is) tended not to believe Ms. Hill. People who were liberal tended to believe her.
  • Example: "I believe you Paula." Current bumper sticker regarding Paula Jones and her charges against President Clinton. Everything about the case is exactly the opposite as the one mentioned above.
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