Doubt and skepticism are healthy responses. Cynicism, not so much.
The other day, I called customer support for an appliance I own. I was asking for information on accessories to help me do something the device can’t do without the accessory. The customer support person told me I didn’t need the accessory and told me my device could do this thing with a modification. I was skeptical and dubious. And for good reason because it turned out what they told me was totally false.
Doubt and skepticism help you make sure that the information you are receiving is true. Given how much misinformation is circulating these days on all sorts of topics as people try to get rich as they always have off gullible people, it pays to be skeptical.
Cynicism on the other hand is not a good trait. A cynic ins’t skeptical because they have already made up their mind that other people can’t be trusted. This is a problem, because some people can be trusted and should be trusted.
Like all things, wisdom lies in being able to tell who you can trust and who you can’t. Deciding to trust no one is intellectually lazy. It also leave you open to manipulation. A LOT of the scammers on the internet, in fact most of them, prey on people who are cynical. They feed the cynicism and exploit it. Instead of protecting themselves, cynics become preyed upon.
Being cynical is easy. Being skeptical is difficult. I think a lot of people claim to be cynics to hide their insecurities. If you don’t know how to evaluate claims, it is easier to just – dismiss all of them except those that tell you you are smart for being cynical.
Don’t let your pride trap you this way. The best way to learn how to be an open minded skeptic is to practice it. And when someone tells you that something you believe is false, don’t dismiss them as part of the brainwashed masses. It is entirely possible you are the brainwashed one. Skeptics are willing to learn they are mistaken. If you aren’t willing to learn you were wrong, amd you routinely accuse people of being sheeple, then you are part of the problem and stop using your cynicism to protect your ego.
Finding out I was mistaken is liberating. Why? Because knowledge is freedom. Cynicism prevents knowledge. Don’t become trapped by it.
To learn more about how to think critically and make decisions consider taking one of these courses: