What Is Intellectual Integrity?
Do you have an internal desire to uncover truth – real truth? Do you care about the accuracy of your knowledge, beliefs and claims? Does it bother you if you might be professing knowledge that’s wrong? Does reality matter to you? Do you feel the pursuit of truth deserves a thorough, honest approach and analysis?
If so, then you definitely resonate with the concept of Intellectual Integrity.
Intellectual Integrity has everything to do with . . . .
Intellectual Integrity is a mindset of actually caring about truth for truth’s sake; not truth for convenience. You possess a humble and honest commitment to the pursuit of truth and reality wherever the evidence may lead – even if it flies in the face of cultural and societal norms, existing orthodox paradigms, or entirely against everything you’ve ever “learned” throughout your life. You question everything. You hold yourself to the same standards of evidence as you hold others. You don’t let others do your thinking for you. Your thinking is YOURS!
As my friend Tristan Aramis Valerius once said . . . . it’s an “unfiltered lens of inquiry.”
Admitting Limits to Your Knowledge and Beliefs
You’re honest about the limits of your knowledge and what is or isn’t factual, truthful or objective. You humbly realize and admit that the things you know and hold dear to your heart as cherished beliefs are, in fact, very possibly in error and at the very least biased and socially indoctrinated – – unquestioned directives fed to you by authority figures throughout your life.
You possess the humility to willingly step back and honestly and critically re-examine those assumptions and social-conditioned belief structures. Therefore, you’re open to admitting error and changing your cherished beliefs when the evidence dictates it.
Willingness to openly and honestly look at all sides of an issue or topic before coming to an objective, fully-considered, well-informed conclusion. You embrace the Clinical Attitude Toward Arguments.
Recognizing the Subjective Influence of Cognitive Biases and Social Indoctrination
You realize the self-deceptiveness of cognitive errors can negatively influence your ability to come to an impartial, unbiased and informed opinion. Confirmation Bias, Cognitive Dissonance, Rationalization, Paradigms, Orthodox Dogma and Social Conditioning all can – and do – cloud your ability to gain an accurate picture of the world around you. Admit that your thinking processes are flawed. You’re human after all.
Willingness to hold thoughts, values and objective truths beyond the herd. Ignore knee-jerk emotionalism to inform your knowledge. Be cognizant when emotional triggers are pulled and buttons pushed; it’s typically a propagandist narrative being purveyed.
“Intellectual courage comes into play here, because inevitably we will come to see some truth in some ideas considered dangerous and absurd, and distortion or falsity in some ideas strongly held in our social group. We need courage to be true to our own thinking in such circumstances. The penalties for non-conformity can be severe.” – www.CriticalThinking.org
Admitting Ignorance When It’s Appropriate
Don’t claim more than you absolutely know for sure to be accurate and truthful. Reserve your opinion until more factual information is uncovered and known. Be willing to say that you don’t know enough to settle on a belief or opinion. Hold to an unwillingness to jump to conclusions, particularly on the basis of little-to-no evidence.
Realize you don’t have to “take a side” in any debate or argument; at any time in your life. It’s not illegal to “sit on the fence” about an issue.
Understand the difference between an informed and uninformed opinion. One is based on an open, objective, unbiased and thorough inquiry. The other is based on a foundation of willing ignorance or stupidity.
Realize not all sources of information are reliable, and they most likely all have biases. As difficult as it is to conceive, also realize that any claim to science, religion, spirituality, politics, economics, sociology, anthropology, archaeology, history, etc. are not settled. They can’t be considered an undeniable, unquestionable fact. Every conclusion is based on a degree of confidence. From a science perspective, it means being open to the concept of falsification even for the most rigid of orthodox paradigms.
Lack of Intellectual Integrity
Intellectual Hypocrisy is all about . . . .
- Disregard for objectivity, truth, reality, facts and accuracy
- Stupidly maintaining past beliefs in the face of conflicting new evidence
- Hitching onto the uninformed “opinion” of the herd
- Allowing yourself to be manipulated by emotional triggers and propaganda
- Refusing to challenge the existing paradigms and unquestioned norms
- Not critically questioning what you’re “fed” to believe
- Lazily falling back on preconceived beliefs and social conditioning
- Worshiping at the altar of ignorance and irrationality.
“Intellectual Hypocrisy – a state of mind unconcerned with genuine integrity. It is often marked by deep-seated contradictions and inconsistencies. Hypocrisy is often implicit in the thinking and action behind human behavior as a function of natural egocentric thinking. Our hypocrisy is hidden from us. Though we expect others to adhere to standards to which we refuse to adhere, we see ourselves as fair. Though we profess certain beliefs, we often fail to behave in accordance with those beliefs.” – WestSideToastMasters.com
Why is Intellectual Integrity Important?
Accuracy. Integrity. Truth. Objectivity.
These are personal values. Do you care about any of them? Is integrity important to you as a value?
If you aren’t interested in accuracy or holding correct beliefs then Intellectual Integrity will mean nothing. You’ll simply be happy grabbing a single sound-bite from your biased media source, committing it to your mind and heart as fact, then spewing it out to others as unassailable gospel. Do you really want to be that person?
This is an autodidactic approach. You won’t get objective truth from your schooling, media, movies, radio, newspaper, social media, family, friends, clergy, academics. This is up to you. Do you want truth? Or do you want to default on laziness?
What is really important?
(Featured image created from hetemeel.com)
Some online sources:
- Valuable Intellectual Traits, CriticalThinking.org
- Debate and the Virtue of Intellectual Integrity, by Adam Torson: VBreifly.com
- Intellectual Integrity: Holding Ourselves to the Same Standards to Which We Hold Others, WestSideToastMasters.com
- Integrity, umasd.org (PDF)
- Intellectual Integrity, InsightAssessment.com
- We Need to Value Intellectual Integrity, by Gregg Henriques Ph.D.: PsychologyToday.com