What makes a good search?


Active open mindedness

Baron’s criteria include allocating importance and searching in accordance with this, confidence appropriate to the amount & quality of thinking done, fairness to other possibilities than the one we initially favour. The search needs to be active rather than passive: we ought to be active in seeking out knowledge and we ought to be open minded in considering new possibilities, new goals etc.

To illustrate one aspect of the way we search, consider the nine dots problem.



Draw these dots onto paper. The task is to join all nine dots together without removing the pen from the paper using no more than 4 straight lines. (Drawing back over the same line counts as drawing another line.)

Give it a try. If after 5 minutes or so you still don't get it click here for a clue:

Justifying active open mindedness as part of rational or good thinking is done easily from the perspective of Islam and I will return to this further on. From an academic's point of view they will probably recognise the elements of active open mindedness as continually being taught indirectly within their (scientific) institutions. Quite simply within the realm of seeking verifiable knowledge of reality these principles are generally found to work. Whether they work for goals that aren't as noble as the seeking of knowledge is not so clear.

If you are not 'actively open minded' in your thinking your thinking may well become quite bad. Examples to the opposite of 'active open mindedness' include:

Biases in the search.

Inactivity in the search

Searching not in accordance to the importance of what the search is for

Confidence in the results, not appropriate to the amount and quality of thinking that has gone into reaching them.

It is useful, now, to examine these in some more detail and how they relate to morals concerning thinking.


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