Cynicism is not the same as being critical.
- Cynicism can be defined by two characteristics: one is being negative, and the other is being prejudicial. This means that a cynic will naturally assume the worst in a lot of situations.
- A critic or a skeptic is someone who questions things, but they do not have to be negative about it.
Cynicism is bad because it is illogically negative and can be harmful as a result. It also is sometimes mistaken for, or even promoted mistakenly as a legitimate form of skepticism.
The problem with cynicism is that while it does question information and intentions, it does so out of a mistrust for mankind, spite, and often selfishness. The correct reason for questioning others is to be sure you know the truth and to let others know the truth as well. Cynicism does not have this noble goal and cause, instead the only similarity it shares with true open mindedness is simply doubt.
Cynicism is Harmful
Being negative about everything you hear can be harmful to yourself and others. If you are cynical about someone who wants to help you, then you’ll be less likely to receive help. If you don’t trust any offers you get, you’ll miss a lot of opportunities. Being frequently negative without it being a joke might also make others not want to be around you. Negativity negatively influences others, as it is irrational to think that everything is bad, so when others are hopeful or happy, this attitude will confuse them or ruin their fun.
When one has to make a decision, they need to base their judgment on facts. Cynics assume the wrong facts and thus their judgments will often be wrong. This could result in them making many mistakes that they might regret, all because they were cynical.
Cynicism is Illogical
More importantly, cynicism makes an unwarranted generalisation, and assumes that many things are wrong, bad, have bad motives, or otherwise negative things. The problem with this is that these assumptions have little basis, logic, or evidence. While these assumptions may be correct, the cynic does not bother to verify it. This disregard for the truth is what makes cynicism inferior to criticism, as truth is the driving principle behind true criticism. Not only do cynics assume too much, but they generalise those assumptions, making them even less reliable.
Cynicism is Easy
It’s easier to be cynical than to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of things, or to analyse and judge whether or not something is good. Cynics instead assume that everything is bad, avoiding having to do any work or thought when it comes to judging people or information. This lifestyle makes it easy to make judgments because there is no true doubt in their ideas and gives them an answer to any hard question. Such people do not stress over things or even make choices really, they simply rely on a system that is as illogical as assuming that everything is good.
One of the reasons cynicism is easy, and even popular is because it appears as though it’s truly skeptical and involves critical thought. It had the advantages of appearing as critical even though it’s not, and also appears rebellious and righteous, as if the cynic is more enlightened or smarter than everyone else since they doubt things. This isn’t true though because cynics simply subscribe to a general philosophy of doubt without any real thought about what the reasons for that doubt are, and they can appear as freedom fighters opposing lies even when there is no real fight. If a cynic claims that others are naïve for believing in something good, but has no proof that it is bad, then they are simply making up problems where there are none. They accuse others of being liars because they assume everyone is, but in doing so they are essentially lying because they are claiming that something is false but have no reason or proof.
Cynicism is Naïve
Cynics are roughly the extreme opposite of “sheep”, people who are gullible and will believe anything without critical thought. In reality though, both sheep and cynics are gullible and don’t really try to find the truth. Both of these extreme ideologies will get many more things wrong than someone who actually tries to determine whether or not something is actually good or bad, or truthful or deceptive.
True critical thought is the search for the truth. This is always done by carefully examining proof and every side of an argument, in order to analyse everything you know and see if the truth can be found reliably. This requires open mindedness and reason, neither of which are qualities that are associated with cynicism.
Instead of blindly assuming the worst in everything, one must be open minded and analyse everything they know to determine the truth.