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Opinions of Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Columnist: Arthur & Anim-Mensah

How well is the Combination Applied in Ghana

Intuitive vs. Critical Thinking - How well is the Combination Applied in Ghana as well as Africa to our Advantage?

Growing up I realized superstitions, some assumed supernatural unexplained phenomena, and believe in occurrences that really never existed were the order of the day. While we are afraid of ghosts, witches, gods, some antisocial organizations, and others that we believe existed, no one wanted an encounter or really knew if some existed. From the part of the country where we grew up, whirling wind was believed to be caused by dwarfs (“motia”) while it may be caused by the meeting of hot, cold, strong and/or weak winds creating a whirl to lift up lighter materials such as dust, dried leaves etc to move in funnel-like motion. Hence, we lived in fear of some unknown existences to be able take our lives, make us miserable, etc while some may not actually exist. Because of these unknowns, there are several media taking the advantage of being able to communicate with the unknown/supernatural to provide explanations and protection to us at the expense of exorbitant fees, enslavement, placing people in fear, etc.

It seems like whatever you believe in existed; however some of the believed and claimed existences could be due to our thinking and analytical power, processes and understanding. While there are proves of supernatural existences, oftentimes some occurrences that we are not able to explain are assume to be the supernatural. It appears as if the order of the day in Ghana as well as Africa greatly relies on superstitious beliefs, hearsays, as well as intuitive thinking process without any actual investigation.

In developed countries research has aided the step-by-step analysis of some these superstitious beliefs, proved some existences and explained some of the phenomena scientifically. However, some of the beliefs have been proved untrue while others have been explained in a more proper way for development. Upon the forgoing background brings the applicable differences between intuitive and critically thinking. Though, it is believed that most of the great scientists relied on intuition however, critically thinking often buttressed their thought processes to make their discoveries come to reality.

On one hand, intuitive thinking describes thoughts and preferences that come to mind quickly and without much reflection. Also, it is the ability to acquire knowledge without inference or the use of reasoning. Intuition provides us with beliefs that we cannot necessarily justify. On the other hand, critical thinking is an essential tool of inquiry and purposeful. It deals with logical, methodological and criteriological principles, rigorous standards of evidence, careful reasoning to the analysis and discussion of claims, beliefs, and issues.

While intuition is very necessary, coupling with critical thinking process is increasingly applied in today’s world to unearth complex systems and problems. It enhances the understanding of complex concepts in a manner that is clearer and more defined. By then, one can readily understand concepts, appreciate the existing and new challenges and apply concepts effectively.

We often hear in songs or music about our forefathers as well as previous leaders leading us all astray. However, they only expressed and applied what they knew and what was available to them which most were done in haste, for personal interest, without much critical analysis and understanding, no extrapolation to know the future benefits and impacts, superstition, etc. With the gaps and trends already created, today’s Africans are faced with the difficulty while we still sing and match on “sankofa” (go for the past) and “ammamre” (culture) without us actually critically assessing some for any benefit or advancement for our future.

I believe everybody is born with an intuitive thinking process, however critical thinking require systems put in place for its development. In most cases, schooling has proved to be very useful while the level of schooling has generally improved the level of critical thinking. Nonetheless, depending on the nature of parents and their academic levels as well as the environs, one could acquire critical thinking characteristics from home and the environs. I believed if Ghana as well as Africa spice up our style of education and exposures we could tap into the benefits of balanced and combined application of intuitive and critical thinking processes to enhance our development. As charity begins at home, we need to tell children the truth in a way for their comprehension rather than lying to them. Stories told to kids such as whistling at night invites evil spirits could be explained as noise to others resting or sleeping; eating while hands are on the floor/ground described as one loosing food to the floor could be explained as improper positioning which can affect swallowing and digestion; black cats viewed as evil omen and sometimes maltreated could be view as any animal with black color and inherited by no fault of the animal; and so on.

I believe a balance of intuitive and critical thinking will dim low some of the unnecessary superstitious beliefs and “ammamre” which some have no basis; quickly break some of the unnecessary acquired trends, lower applied hearsay information, empower people to aspire more without boundaries, understand and apply concepts more clearly and move Ghana as well as the continent forward.

John Samuel Arthur (Accra, Ghana)

Alex. Anim-Mensah, Ph.D (Ohio, USA)