Posted: Thu, February 01, 2018 | By: Critical Thinking
Leo Igwe’s “iDOUBT”
LESSON 1: INTRODUCTION AND INDIVIDUAL DOUBT
Hello students. We are going to learn “Critical Thinking” in this 12 week class.
The work outline for learning this important topic has been created by several people.
For the first 5 weeks, we will study the very fun “iDoubt” system that was invented by Leo Igwe. He is a Nigerian, he has a PhD, he is a human rights activist who wants to protect people from witchcraft, and he is a humanist.
Leo Igwe says the following:
The need for critical thinking in Africa is important because the dark, destructive consequences of dogma, superstition, and blind faith are very evident in Africa.
The inability to think critically is at the root of witch killing, ritual murders, and other superstitious abuses that plague Africa.
Education and science and and human rights activism has not, unfortunately, significantly weakened irrational beliefs in many people.
Pastors, prophets, medicine men, witch doctors, godmen and godwomen continue to claim falsely about their abilities so they can prey on people’s fears, ignorance, and credulity.
In Kenya, Prophet Owuor said he resurrected a woman from the dead.
In Ghana, a traditional priest in Ghana was seriously injured when he tested a magic bulletproof vest.
In South Africa, a pastor asked church members to eat grass and drink insecticide - to heal themselves.
Another pastor, Bushiri, claimed to have walked on the air.
In Nigeria, there are reports of witches crash landing in a church or at a bus stop and then turning into a cat or bird.
These irrational claims are worrisome and they make critical thinking in Africa - urgent and important.
I teach Critical Thinking with a system I call “iDoubt.”
There are 5 steps in iDoubt:
Let us study these 5 steps so we can develop Critical Thinking Skills to guard us against deception, exploitation, and foolery.
Individual Doubt is the ability of all people—young and old, black or white, educated or non-educated, religious or nonreligious—to question and dispute notions and beliefs.
To doubt something is to view it as untrue. To doubt something means that you do not believe it. You require the information to be proved to you - you do not immediately accept it.
Human beings are doubting, questioning, curious animals.
Questioning what we hear is part of every human’s chemistry. Whatever we hear on the streets, on the television, on the Internet, from family members or friends, or what read in the papers or presentations such as this, trigger questions in us because what we hear might seem as true or as real to us, as it is presented. We doubt it.
Lets say those words outlaid, several times:
I Doubt It.
I Doubt It.
I Doubt It.
You can also say I Don’t Believe It. Let’s say those words several times.
I Don’t Believe it.
I Don’t Believe it.
I Don’t Believe it.
I would now like each student in the room to say it - one at a time - say it loudly and bravely. Shout it if you wish. Let’s make it fun. Let’s start in this corner and go around in a circle. Remember to say it loudly. You must learn to challenge the false ideas and incorrect opinions that you will hear in your life.
I Doubt It! I Doubt It! I Doubt It! I Doubt It! I Doubt It! I Doubt It! I Doubt It! I Doubt It! I Doubt It! I Doubt It! I Doubt It! I Doubt It! I Doubt It! I Doubt It! I Doubt It! I Doubt It! I Doubt It! I Doubt It! I Doubt It! I Doubt It!
In the long life you have ahead of you — you will often have questions when you hear ideas or events described to you. Perhaps you will hear stories about people involved in a robbery, kidnapping, accidents, or murder. These are events where it is important to find out the truth, so that the correct people are punished, and the innocent people are not.
I am now going to say a few untrue sentences and I want you to say “I Doubt It.” And I want you to explain to me why you doubt it.
Nicholas robbed a bank yesterday. (I DOUBT IT!) + explanation)
Ignatius was Kidnapped this morning (I DOUBT IT! + explanation)
Monica was driving a boda-boda that hit a house yesterday (I DOUBT IT! + explanation)
The President of the United States murdered Timothy last night. (I DOUBT IT! + explanation)
Dear students, in your life you will also hear many stories that are based on magic, and religion. You might have questions about this. You might have questions about the “holy books” - the Bible and The Koran. Or, you might have questions about ritual beliefs and traditions.
Here are some of the questions you might have about religious beliefs:
Who wrote the Bible?
Did Allah dictate the Quran?
Did the people burned in Kanungu go straight to heaven?
Where is heaven?
Can a spirit talk?
Can a human head turn into money?
Can a human being turn into a snake?
Can human beings “fly” at night as witches?
Students, I want you to understand that Critical Thinking is the human ability to question what we hear. It is the ability to think about what we are told, and ask questions, to determine for ourselves if what we are told to believe, is true.
Critical Thinking is the ability to use our minds to gather information, with questions, so that we can decide if what we hear is true or not.
It is the ability to use our brains, to think smartly.
Is is smart to just believe absolutely everything you are told? (NO!)
How do we decide if what we are told is true?
We examine it, we question it, we criticize it, we look for proof that it is as true as it claims to be.
I want to do one more game before ending the class. I want each student in the class to write down a sentence, that expresses an idea, that might be easy to believe, or difficult to believe. And then, I want the student to say the sentence out loud, and I want the rest of the class, to ask them questions about it.
I will go first. Here is my sentence.
“Last night I flew, with my arms, to Tanzania, and then back home.”
Do you have questions about this? What are your questions? Do you think I am telling the truth? Do you think my answers are honest, or lies? Do you DOUBT what I said? If you doubt it, just say I DOUBT IT.
Now, everyone in the class needs to write down a sentence, and say it aloud like I did, and the class will question it, and, if they wish, they can say I DOUBT IT.
LESSON 2: INSPIRE DOUBT
In the last lesson we learned to say I Doubt It, when we heard statements from me and our classmates.
We acted like lawyers when we doubted the details we heard of robberies, kidnappings, accidents and murders.
We also questioned ideas we heard about magic, and religions.
And finally, we questioned statements that our classmates made up.
Last week we focused on saying that We Doubted what we heard.
That was very important, but this week we will practice something harder.
This week we will try to get our classmates to question what they are saying. We will try to get them to critically examine that they are talking about.
It is important for each of us to use our brains to think critically. But, we should also use our brains to inspire others to think critically. That is why this week the exercise is called INSPIRE DOUBT.
It is important to motivate, to stimulate, everyone to question their ideas, so that they believe ideas that are true.
It is important for all of us to seek the truth, to find out what is true, and what is false, and to live our lives according to what is true.
Instead of just saying “I Doubt It” when people tell us information, we can also question them, we can ask them why they believe what they believe.
We can ask them to prove what they are saying is true, to us, and also to themselves.
Perhaps we can show them where their thinking is wrong.
Perhaps we can teach them to examine their ideas more carefully, so in the future, they will be better able to see what is true, and what is not true.
I will start first. I am going to say a statement, and you are going to question me. You will try to get me to re-examine what I said. You will ask me to question my own statement, you will ask me to question my belief.
Remember, when you do this - to do it with kindness. Treat them like a friend. If you are aggressive with people, when you question them, they will not want to cooperate. They will get angry and just insist that they are right without listening to you. Remember to be polite.
Here is my statement that I believe to be true. In this game, I am not lying to deceive you - I actually believe this to be true.
“I was born in China sixty years ago.”
Now I want you to question me. Find out why I believe this to be true. Ask me to provide proof that this happened. See if you can get me to re-examine what I believe.
See if you can get me to say, “Maybe I am wrong. Maybe I was not actually born win China sixty years ago. Perhaps I have not thought this through correctly. Perhaps I have believed something I should not believe.”
Okay, start questioning me.
(SPEND 5 MINUTES ON THIS EXERCISE)
Okay, you have asked good questions that made me re-consider. I now think that I was incorrect in my statement because I have critically examined the evidence you presented and the evidence I previously believed. I now think that “I was not born in China sixty years ago.”
The next exercise is - I want five of you to also write down a statement that you will pretend to believe.
I want your classmates to ask you questions about your statement, in an attempt to get you to reconsider.
Are there any volunteers? Who wants to write down a statement that they will pretend to believe?
Excellent. I want you and you and you and you and you - to write down your statements, it should only take one minute. Write down something about yourself.
One ideas you can write down is — I suggest you write down something that claims you are qualified for a certain job. This will happen in your future. Write down that you have a certain skill that qualifies you for a certain position.
Okay? Student Number One, read your statement, and the class will question you.
(This exercise takes place)
Student Number Two, read your statement and the class will question you.
Thank you for practicing this. I hoped you have learned how to question others, so they learn how to examine their statements, to determine if they are true, or false.
It is very important to teach this to other people, perhaps now - just your younger brothers and sisters, and your friends.
But when you get older, teaching others to examine their ideas, to find out and believe only what is true - this will be a great skill.
Many of you will be leaders. You will want to be good leaders. You will want to convince people to re-examine their ideas, so that they can live a life based on truth, instead of lies and imaginary ideas.
This would be good for all Uganda.
LESSON 3: INCULATE DOUBT
In the first lesson, you learned how to say “I Doubt It” when you heard information that might be untrue.
In the second lesson, you learned how to get other people to question their own beliefs.
Now we are ready for the third lesson. It is called “Inculate Doubt.” Inculate means To Teach, by practicing frequently.
This lesson also tells us to praise and admire Critical Thinkers.
We should never punish or ridicule people who ask many questions because they are seeking the truth.
We should celebrate and honor Critical Thinkers.
A word to remember, that describes Critical Thinkers, is “Skeptic.”
Do you think there should be prizes given to Skeptics - people who ask smart questions?
It is not the number of questions that is important, because many questions are easy to answer.
What is most important is asking “tough questions.”
Questions that force everyone to use their brains and think very hard, perhaps about things they have never thought of before.
Many people are too lazy to think hard, but you are not like that, are you?
We all enjoy thinking and using our brains.
The English philosopher Bertrand Russell said that “some people would rather die than think.”
They would rather die than say “I Doubt It” -
They would rather die than think about why they believe what they believe.
They would rather die than ask themselves and other many difficult questions.
They would rather die because they are lazy, or they don’t think they are smart enough to answer the difficult questions,
Or they don’t want to change their minds about anything, because it seems scary and complicated.
But we are not like that.
Nobody in this class is like that, right?
We are all willing to ask tough questions, very difficult questions about everything, we are all willing to think very hard
So that we can find the right answers to the difficult questions, because we want to find out what is true.
Learning to be a Critical Thinker is something everyone can do.
It isn’t something one person can do and another person cannot do at all.
It is not like that.
Learning to be a Critical Thinker is something that can be taught. Something we can all learn. We have been learning it here, in the last 3 weeks.
Learning to be a Critical Thinker is a skill that a teacher, like me, can teach you.
I am going to ask you to do something difficult now, the hardest thing I have asked yet in this class.
I am going to ask you to write down one difficult question.
I want it to be a Big Question that you don’t know the answer to.
I want it to be a question that - if we knew the answer, Uganda would be a better place.
After you write down the question, I want you to ask the class the question.
If anyone in the class thinks they know the answer, they can say what they think the answer is.
If we doubt their answer, we can say I Doubt It!
We can tell them why we doubt their answer.
The person who had the answer will then tell us why they think that’s the answer.
I will start with my question:
Are Bakiga (or whoever your tribe is) people the kindest people in the world?
What is your answer?
How can you prove your answer is correct?
Students - when you hear these answers, remember to ask Critical Thinking Questions like:
“How do you know?”
“Why should I believe you?”
“Can you prove it?”
Okay, now it is your turn. Everyone has to write down a question that does not have an easy answer.
You will read your question to the class, and people can answer it.
If the students listening don’t know the answer, they can just make up an answer, and say it, and defend it, and pretend like you do know the answer.
Adults do this all the time, they pretend to know all the answers so they can appear smarter than they really are.
But we are Critical Thinkers - those of us listening so we will say I Doubt it! If any classmate says anything we do not believe
EXERCISE — 10-15 minutes or longer
Thank you. The class is almost over. I just want to give you some homework.
What I want you to do before the next lesson is - I want you to practice Critical Thinking with your friends.
If a friend says something you don’t believe, you can politely say, “Hmmm? Is that really true? I rather doubt it.”
You can politely explain why you have trouble believing what they said, and you can ask them questions.
You can ask them to prove to you the truth of what they said.
Remember to be kind in your questioning.
Do Not ridicule or insult them, just explain that your brain is not sure what they said is correct.
You have some questions about what they said that need to be answered before you are convinced.
Next lesson, you can tell us all how you used your Critical Thinking skill to examine a statement a friend of yours said.
LESSON 4: INFORM DOUBT
At the last lesson, I gave you homework.
I asked you all to use your Critical Thinking skills to question others about what they say.
Today I want to find out what happened, but first, I want to explain why we did that.
This lesson is called Inform Doubt.
Why? Because, when we inform or tell others that we have doubts, you are increasing that person’s ability to doubt.
You are nourishing their doubting ability. You are teaching them Critical Thinking.
Even if they get annoyed at first that you didn’t believe them, they will understand, eventually,
that what they say might require more proof, more evidence, if it is to be believed.
So, does anyone have a story about how they used Critical Thinking in a conversation with friends?
Let us hear from half of the class now.
(10 minute exercise)
A benefit to being a Critical Thinker, a Skeptic, and expressing our disbelief out loud, is that when we do this, there are probably other people around
who also disagree with what what said, but they decided not to say anything.
When we are brave and say “I Doubt It!” We are often speaking not just for ourselves, but for many other people who have decided to be silent.
But, when you are the leader, and say “I Doubt It!” - that will give others the strength to also say “I Doubt it, too!”
After you say I Doubt It! — people might come up to you and say “I agree with you, but I thought I was the only person with doubts.”
Your ability to voice your doubts will often find support from many people who agree with you, but have been silent.
We should be Critical Thinkers with pride.
We should be Skeptics that use our brains to seek the truth, and we should encourage others to do the same.
We should announce to the world that we are Questioners - we are not Fools that believe anything we are told.
This means we don’t believe what so-called experts say either, unless we see evidence that what they said is true.
We don’t automatically believe Politicians, or Religious leaders, or teachers, or elders, or relatives —
We listen to them, respectfully, but we only believe them if what they tell us, makes sense to us, based on the evidence we need.
Please tell your doubts to everybody.
Express your doubts on important topics, like religion, politics, economics, and you may be surprised to hear responses such as: “I doubt it too” or “I don’t believe it too” or “I have been suspecting that guy” or “I also think that prophet (or politician) is a fraud.” Or “The notion of heaven and hell never made sense to me,” etc.
Another benefit to expressing your doubts is that you will be able to find people who agree with you, if you communicate what you believe.
You will be able to find other doubters, other skeptics and critical thinkers like yourself, if you announce that your doubt-filled declarations.
If you quietly pretend to agree with all the ideas you hear, you won’t get to meet other doubters, like the true self you are hiding.
Don’t keep your doubts to yourself. Announce them, publicize them, tell a friend, tell a neighbor.
Now, let’s hear from the other half of the class, what it was like when they told their friends “I Doubt It!”
(10 minute exercise)
Before we leave, I want to give a homework assignment.
Does everyone here have access to the internet?
Don’t worry about the cost - Brighter Brains Institute is paying for it.
The homework is - everyone needs to go on the Internet for 10 minutes, to find something written there that you doubt; you don’t think it is true.
You might want to write down something that happened in Africa, that sounds very Amazing and Magical - that is what I am going to do.
Write down what you doubt and write down where you saw it, and bring it to class next lesson.
LESSON 5: INTERNET DOUBT
The homework assigned at the last lesson was to bring in something we read on the internet that we don’t believe is true.
The reason we are doing this is because I am worried that many people think EVERYTHING on the internet is true.
But it is often NOT TRUE.
It is often not true for many reasons -
- it might be written by someone who thinks they are telling the truth, but they don’t know the truth, because they are skeptical thinkers.
- it might be written by someone who wants you to buy something, so he is lying and saying you need to buy it
- it might be written by someone who wants to frighten you into believing something untrue, because they are afraid of something untrue, and they want you to believe it, too.
- it might be written by someone who just wants to lie, because they think it is fun to lie.
And many other reasons.
Anyone can put anything on the internet.
It doesn’t have to be true, to be put there.
The person can just write down lies all day on the internet - it is generally not a crime to do that.
I will start — Here is something I found on the Internet:
In an online newspaper in Zimbabwe, I read an article that had the headline:
Zimbabwe: Witch flies naked in a basket 120 kilometers to kill?
The article says the woman hissed like a snake and she flew in a winnowing basket to kill her brother-in-law
When I read this, I thought “I Doubt it!”
I am very very skeptical. There is no proof that this happened. There is not a photograph, or a video of her flying.
Just people saying she did. But they might be mistaken, or just not saying the truth, because they want her imprisoned.
My Critical Thinking brain believes there aren’t any people who can fly, because we do not have wings.
I have never seen anyone fly. I can’t fly myself. If people could fly, we would all fly, wouldn’t we?
But we don’t, no matter how fast we flap our arms.
So I don’t believe this article.
Now, who else has an internet story that they found, that they Doubt?
EXERCISE 5 MINUTES
This class concludes the “iDoubt” part of the Critical Thinking workshop, designed by Leo Igwe, or Nigeria.
Let us review what he has taught us.
We learned to say “I Doubt it” when we hear information that we cannot accept as true.
We learned to ask questions, to seek the truth, when we hear doubtful information.
We learned to ask others to doubt and examine their own ideas.
We learned to ask difficult questions, to think hard in our search for true answers.
We learned to not be lazy, to not accept information without examining it critically.
We learned to be skeptics, and questioners.
We learned to not accept as true everything we hear from authority figures, or political leaders, or religious leaders.
We learned to not accept as true everything we read on the internet.
We learned to be proud of being a critical thinker.
We learned to praise questions.
We know in Uganda and in Africa in general, there are many claims of amazing things.
People claim they can raise people up from the dead, people claim that can turn themselves or others into birds, goats or snakes.
Religious people claim they can walk on the air or walk on the water.
People say witches fly through the air at night.
Traditional practitioners say that people can become rich if they do rituals, with human sacrifice, and human body parts.
Many people claim many amazing things, that are difficult to believe.
Hearing them, it is wise to say “I Doubt It” if we feel that it might not be true.
It is wise to ask for evidence, to ask for proof, if we find something difficult or impossible to believe.
When we say “I Doubt It” - others who were quiet, will be happy we said that, because they also doubt it, but we silent.
When we say “I Doubt It” we will find other people to be friends with, who also doubt what we doubt.
Best of all, when we doubt, when we question, when we are skeptics, we are saying that we really want to know the truth.
We don’t want to believe anything that is false.
We know finding the truth might be difficult, but we are willing to work hard with our Critical Thinking brains, to discover what is true.
Because living a life that is based on truths, will be good for us, and good for others, and good for all Ugandans.