|Top: Poster in Mulder and Scully's
X-Files office, bottom, illustration
from Wikipedia entry for wishful thinking
showing a little boy imagining his cart
is being pulled by a real horse.
By Hal Brown
Forget about lamenting the lack of sophisticated critical thinking ability among a large part of the population. Expecting this for more than half the population is too much because it requires a combination of above average intelligence (half the people have below average IQ's) and both the desire and ability to make the effort to analyze all the elements required to differentiate fact from fiction.
To have common sense only requires that a person follows a few simple rules when reaching conclusions. An important one, perhaps the most important, is to want to know the truth. This involves having an open mind and being will to admit that there's a chance that what you believe may not be the whole truth.
It also means that you understand that what you want to believe may not be true. Ideally the average person should be able to understand the power of wishful thinking even if they have no grasp of the concept of confirmation bias, i.e., searching for, interpreting, favoring and recalling information in a way that confirms or supports one's beliefs or values.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines wishful thinking in three ways:
It is entirely different to vote for someone because you believe they will save you from someone who is out to destroy your country.
...that technology billionaires are especially susceptible to the belief that they’re uniquely brilliant, able to instantly master any subject, from Covid to the war in Ukraine. They could afford to hire experts to brief them on world affairs, but that would only work if they were willing to listen when the experts told them things they didn’t want to hear. So what happens instead, all too often, is that they go down the rabbit hole: Their belief in their own genius makes them highly gullible, easy marks for grifters claiming that the experts are all wrong.