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Intellectual Carefulness


This blog is part of a series of reflections based on Philip Dow's book Virtuous Minds*


"It is more from carelessness about truth than from intentionally lying that there is so much falsehood in the world." (p33)


The fact that we fail to be adequately careful in our thinking is usually not the fault of our intentions but simply the result of our being out of practice (p35). We are quick to defend our sloppiness with excuses like lack of time or overload of tasks and responsibilities. We may even come to believe that there is not enough time to be deliberately careful in our thinking. After all, in the everyday of life it doesn’t seem to make that much difference to the outcomes.


The fruits of habitually careful thinking are often deceptively mundane (p35); the roster that works well, the exam or report that doesn’t need correction or the newsletter article that conveys all the correct information. At the other extreme, there are times where this careful attention to detail becomes extremely significant.


The new film Hidden Figures shows the importance of the careful attention to detail in the NASA’s Space Program. One calculation error or number entered wrongly and John Glenn’s ground-breaking orbit of the earth would have ended in tragedy. Intellectual carefulness is not something that we can turn on and off but something that we develop over time if we are willing to work at it. (p38)


Philip Dow will be the keynote speaker at the upcoming Christians in Teaching Conference in April.


Can we encourage you to delve into his award winning book Virtuous Minds*, be challenged by his call to pursue truth and to build intellectual virtues in your students, and join us for the upcoming Christians in Teaching Conference


*Dow, Philip E. 2013. "Virtuous Minds: Intellectual Character Development". Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press


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