Tag Archives: ad hominum renarks

The Difference between Critical Thinking and Criticism

Consider these conversations:

Two women are playing bridge. They have known each other about 2 months.

Maxine: You need to lose some weight.

Carol: (says nothing)

A month later:

Maxine: You really should lose some weight so you won’t have trouble breathing.

Carol: What makes you think you have the standing to make a comment about my weight?

Maxine: (Taken aback- says nothing)

There are 14 other people in the room and now they are all listening.

Carol: Standing is a legal term. When parties go to court the judge needs to know if they have a right to be involved in the case and the law it concerns. For example, a private citizen cannot go to court about a Home School law unless he is a home schooling parent.

You brought a charge against me about my weight without having any legal reason to do so, and on top of that you have no relevant facts in the case. I ignored your previous comments because your opinion is of no value. The judge throws out any persons who do not have standing, and I threw out what you said because you have no standing. In other words, your opinion is of no value to me.

Maxine: But I know you will breathe better if you lose weight.

Carol: That is not knowledge; that is an opinion based on an assumption.  You do not have the facts in the case. I have seen my doctor 3 times in the past 7 months and not once did he mention my weight. Bless his heart.

If you are a dietitian or medical professional you have standing, otherwise none. Is your emotional assumption more valuable to me than his professional life of medical experience? Hardly.

Maxine: But I know that overweight people have trouble breathing.

Carol: That is true, but you don’t know that I almost died at 9 years of age of pneumonia.  I was so thin the neighbor asked my mother who that child was with her. I never could begin school in September on the first day because I couldn’t breathe – my lungs were badly damaged. I never mentioned this because you are not my friend; you are a sometime bridge player. I might have asked you about bridge; you have standing on that issue.  You have no standing to criticize my health or my physical body.

I do have people in my life that I consult. One couple here in town is so important to me that no matter what they ask I respond! They asked me to run for office and I was elected.  I really had no interest in the office but because I trust their judgment, which they have proven to me, I complied. I have no history with you.

You based your comments solely on your assumptions which were wrong. In addition, comments about someone’s physical body are considered rude.

That is the difference between critical thinking and emotional opinion.  Critical thinking is based on standing acquired by information and understanding; ad hominum remarks are nothing but criticism based on assumption and personal bias.

Unfortunately most of America is now indulging in the latter and public discourse has become rotten and unhinged.