On Styles of Thinking

“I don’t see how it makes a difference to the science,” Mrs. Bowman said.

“People use two kinds of thinking when they want to discover the truth,” said Mr. Magundi. “I call them rational thinking and personality thinking. Rational thinking asks, ‘How do I know?’ Personality thinking asks, ‘Whom do I trust?’

“We all use both kinds of thinking to some degree. When we need to make a quick life-or-death decision, well-placed trust is likely to preserve us when there’s no time to reason things out. But most people lean more in one direction or another. You’re a rational thinker; you look at your scientist’s methods and reasoning, and you see nothing wrong with it, so you can’t understand what relevance it has if he did something wrong in his personal life. But a personality thinker—and I believe personality thinkers are the more common type—is simply appalled that you would see things that way. If a scientist is a thief or an adulterer, then of course you have to reject his science, because you can’t trust him. I think it’s terribly damaging to judge science by personalities, but a personality thinker would just smirk at me and tell me that of course that’s what a man like me would think.”

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