Who is the wordmonster?

My name is Aubrey Henretty. I’m a writer. I write about science and curiosity, and once in a while I say words into a microphone.

What’s critical thinking?

Oh, boy. It’s a lot of things. But mostly it’s asking questions.

What kind of questions?

Critical thinkers ask questions because they want to get to the bottom of things. While the other kids are fighting about the color of the toenails of the monster under the bed, the critical thinker says Wait a minute: Is there really a monster under there? Why do people think there is a monster? She asks if anyone has actually seen it. She looks under the bed. She sets a monster trap. That kind of thing.

And what does any of this have to do with language?

If you let other people decide how you’re going to talk, you’re letting them put limits on how you think, on the kinds of questions you can ask. It’s a real shame.

Sometimes you use the words and expressions you write about. Doesn’t that make you a filthy hypocrite?

Yes. But if you’ve caught me using a word or phrase or image that I once said was misleading or manipulative, you’ve walked directly into my trap. You paid attention to what I was saying. I hope you’ll apply your formidable powers of linguistic observation to me, politicians, religious leaders, advertisements, things you read, people on TV and the internet, your boss, your friends and family, and yourself with equal relish.

You’re biased in favor of my political/philosophical enemies!

We all have biases. If you think you’ve spotted one of mine, congratulations. And thanks for paying attention!

Why can’t I comment on your posts? Is it because you hate the free exchange of ideas?

Comment sections tend to bring out the worst of humanity. If you want to talk about something you read here, maybe mention it to a friend. Try to learn something. If I’m wrong, try to understand where I went wrong and why I might have made the mistake I made. Have some empathy and be kind. Do this whenever anyone is wrong.

I hate websites. Are you on Twitter?

I am. I also have an RSS feed and a Facebook page that may interest you.