Bad thinking is usually due to bad habits rather than to lack of ability.
This includes bad habits such as acting without thinking; accepting a “fact” or idea without independent verification; and taking in news, ideas and interpretations only from sources with a perspective that reinforces your own, rather than differing from your perspectives or questioning them.
Such bad habits are correctable, and that’s encouraging. However, if habits are deeply engrained they are hard to change. Any habit can only weaken and leave if there is a will – motivated by an internal desire.
For deeply engrained habits, even a strong motivation isn’t enough for change. A deeply engrained habit is no longer a habit, but an internal imperative which must be obeyed and can’t be ignored. Such habits can become essential parts of individual and group identity.
There is hope, though, from at least two approaches. Both of these approaches are methods to train the mind and produce clearer, broader thinking.
The first method is: Regular exposure to other people one can respect, who have different ideas and behaviors, which they express and model well. Having a motivation and an opportunity for exposure to new and different ideas and behaviors can begin to change even long-held habits of thinking.
The second method is less familiar to most people: If people take up the regular habit of transcending – experiencing the silent, unbounded source of their own mind and being, then life-restricting habits can begin to weaken. There is plenty of evidence over the last several thousand years that this can actually work. More recently, neurological, physiological, and other sociological evidence supports this approach.
Combine these two remedies – regular transcending and regular exposure to honest people with different perspectives – and even the most intractable bad habits will begin to loosen.