June 27, 2021

10. Thinking for ourselves. Thinking critically, and why it matters.

10. Thinking for ourselves. Thinking critically, and why it matters.
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I've always been clear that the Free-dumb Sessions' role is to provoke debate, awaken critical thinking, and help people ' break Free of Dumb’, in all its many forms, but what the hell is critical thinking anyway? 

How do we sort out the facts from the noise, the meaning from rumor, and the outright lies from the gossip?

At long last, this episode is a conversation with my guest and friend Carl Davidson.

Carl has spent most of his life trying to understand human behavior. His background is in psychology and sociology but he also is very fond of the anthropological approach to understanding others. An academic, a researcher, a policymaker, and - most recently - in the insights industry,  he is founder and director at Research First Ltd as well as an adjunct fellow at the University of Canterbury. Carl has written some nine books about research and thinking..


I’ve known Carl for a while, but we really got to know each other during lockdown (while coming together for virtual whiskey tastings - the whiskey was real, but we were socially distancing on Zoom -  while tasting)

At last, we have managed to synchronise our schedules to do this episode.

Good conversations deserve some time, so this is another longer episode than normal. 

In it, we talk about what critical thinking is, why it is so important to learn, and some tips and tricks to use when trying to sort out the facts from the noise. 

Carl mentioned some of his favorite books, websites, blogs, and music tracks.

What follows is a list of some of his faves:


  • Winnie the Pooh by  AE Milne
  • The Thought Gang By Tibor Fisher
  • Friends by Robin Dunbar
  • The Stupidity Paradox: The Power and Pitfalls of Functional Stupidity at Work by Mats Alvesson


  • Thinking Fast and Slow by  Daniel Kahneman
  • The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli


Arts and Letters Daily



The hidden brain



Bob Hoffman’s The Ad Contrarian



The Rat by The Walkmen


You can contact Carl at:

www.researchfirst.co.nz or,


Carl Davidson - Forever curious