Critical Thinking

  • Posted on: 10 July 2014
  • By: Shawn DeWolfe
"It's looks like you work out of your kitchen and your wife doesn't even commit to the business." That was a mean, biting critique of my business' about us page. It was also totally honest and necessary.

I would rather be a thin genius, clad in a sand shoes and 3D glasses. I'm not. What I know could fill a shelf. What I don't know could fill a library. I can become more educated and I do continuously seek out additional information and new skills. But the practice of those skills is a demonstration of what I know and how well I execute it. After something is done, it can be reviewed and critiqued. My daughter is a one-off. Our interactions are iterative. I don't know nothing 'bout raising no babies. While she is unique, my opportunities to have good experiences with her are numerous. If I leave her sullen and with hurt feelings, that's a permanent moment in the past. It's also a learning experience for the future, so that I can avoid a repeat of past parenting catastrophes.

There are no re-dos on people, but there are plenty of re-dos elsewhere in life. A bad meal can be a learning experience. A bad haircut will grow out. A bad draft of a manuscript can be redone. You cannot get a second chance to make a first impression, but you can make a good impression with the next person you meet. Heck, many of Hitchcock's movies in the 1950s were remakes of movies he did in the 1930s.

I used to be pissy when I got criticism. HOW DARE THEY!?! Well, they dare to care. You should discount someone who says, "you suck!" but some people will provide long form critiques of what you do. When some takes the time to review what you've done, you should appreciate that. If it's sound advice (assume it is, and ask for a clarification where I don't understand or I don't agree), I try to integrate. I am suffering through the first draft of The Star Wars ("drop the The"...). It has been turned into a Dark Horse comic book. Han Solo is there; as is Darth Vader. Despite all of the famous elements, this first draft really sucks. Someone convinced George Lucas to heavily overhaul his completed script to such an extent that it became the movie blockbuster we all know.

Even detractors can become accidental allies. When they voice their problems, that give you a clear example of what opposition looks like. Maybe a trait is not so dear to you and openly disliked by opponents. Take it out and the attached cassus belli from your opponents could disappear with it. I see political positions remain static and set in stone. Ultimately they will not bend, so they are susceptible to crackle under the weight of criticism. When I have a major problem with someone's prospect, I will actually hold by critique as long as possible for fear that my objections could make their product more sophisticated and more pernicious.

When people speak of things that are subject to the critical process and the iterative process, they are usually talking about crowd pleasers: recipes, books, movies and the like. The iterative process is all over the place. You can smell something that hasn't gone through the mill because of its simplicity-- like a CGI version of a human face that lacks the crags, the dings and the humanity that comes from the chorus of what life throws at us. Iterations by oneself is going to be unsatisfying. You need to draw upon outside forces (criticisms, technical failings) to drive the evolution. When something goes through the mill and is critiqued, processed and remade, it will come out look liking its audience and fits its environment much better. It will have that chorus of opinion shaping it: the generation by its creator and rethink by the reviewers.

If you don't agree with me what I have said, that's awesome.

Last updated date

Thursday, July 17, 2014 - 10:34