The book “Six Thinking Hats,” written by Edward DeBono (1999), is a text that presents thinking as a methodical and systematic process that can be controlled. In fact, it should be controlled because the author argues that using several perspectives at once is confusing and lacks efficiency. DeBono assigned each thinking hat a color that represented its characteristics. The white, red, blue, black, yellow, and green hats are presented in the book, and a detailed elaboration on perspectives and insights from each hat are presented to the reader. Personally, I found the sections dedicated to the white, red, and black hats the most interesting and engaging. The author’s statements within those sections are the most accountable for challenging my viewpoints.
One of the main sections that challenged my viewpoints and engaged me in critical thinking was the section about the white hat. DeBono (1999) makes an interesting statement about the Western culture when he claims that we start with the conclusion and proceed to look for evidence that supports it. It is obvious that people will always find what they are looking for, so starting with a conclusion cannot be objective. It is also evident that few research results dispute the original hypotheses in academic articles. Rather than believing in something before obtaining the facts, DeBono (1999) suggests that people should rely on verified facts. Although that approach excludes other key aspects in the thinking process, the purpose of the white hat is to obtain unbiased and credible information.
Another interesting hat is the red hat. Because it deals with emotions, the conclusions reached through the red hat could be considered highly subjective and undesirable in most cases. However, DeBono (1999), points out the importance of the red hat because it raises the thinker’s level of consciousness about intrapersonal emotional processes. In fact, emotions can be impulsive and arise within one moment. In those cases, people will find it difficult to control those emotions and potentially cause negative outcomes. According to DeBono (1999) the red hat can clarify certain emotional responses to the thinker, and the thinker is later able to influence those emotions. The red hat can become an excellent tool for learning self-criticism, self-regulation, and improve emotional well-being.
At the beginning of reading, I did not understand the role of the black hat because I did not consider pessimism as a desirable trait for expecting outcomes and shaping worldviews. However, it soon became obvious that the black hat itself is not negative, but the thinker’s ability to use it properly defines its productivity. Using the black hat constantly without the yellow hat is unproductive because every decision would appear to have a negative outcome. At that point of the book, I realized that the black hat is probably condemned by most people because it points out things people do not want to see. For example, Ephron (2005) raises several moral issues about the reader’s responses to photographs published in newspapers that depict people falling from the fire escape that had collapsed. The readers commented that journalism invaded their “privacy of death” (Ephron, 2005). However, Ephron (2005) makes a good point when asking if it is ethical to suppress images that depict reality just because they make people feel uncomfortable. Observing potential negative outcomes with the black hat is essential because ignoring potential risks and obstacles does not solve them. To solve potential issues, people need to identify them, and thinking with the black hat is the only way to identify those issues.
The book also clarifies how different perspectives can cause differences in opinions when people do not control their thinking processes. For example, Halbfinger (2009) reports three different outcomes of the New School protests according to the camera footage. Videos and photographs are mistakenly considered credible evidence because people have to both produce and interpret them (Halbfinger, 2009). In reality, they cannot be considered more reliable and objective than witnesses. Those situations are an example of how people lose perception of the objective truth when they are under the influence of the red hat and cannot establish control over their emotions or change the color of their thinking hat.
With some aspects of the book, I cannot agree. For example, DeBono (1999) states that confusion is the main issue when it comes to effective thinking. That statement left me confused because I find it difficult to understand how he considers his system simple. When the author introduced the black hat, he claimed that several characteristics of the red hat overlap with the black hat. At the end of the book, the author suggests effective thinking is not limited to the six hats. It seems that the author’s system allows the readers endless combinations and creativity when thinking, so I cannot find simplicity in the method. I find it more confusing to isolate each thinking process and blend them together later than thinking first and identify the processes later to change them if necessary.
Overall, the concept of the book is praiseworthy and the author’s creativity for proposing the thinking hat system is supported by reasonable and logical arguments. I support most of the author’s statements, and I have gained several insights about the processes involved in thinking. I do not agree with all points because I think the processes always overlap despite our efforts to remove them, but the main concept behind the system is intriguing and provides worthy insights to the reader. The most important thing I have learned from the book “Six Thinking Hats,” is that observing situations, objects, and people from multiple aspects is required to understand them completely.
DeBono, E. (1999). Six thinking hats. New York, NY: Back Bay Books.
Ephron, N. (2005). The Boston photographs. In C. Anderson & L. Runciman (Eds.), Open questions: Readings for critical thinking and writing (n. pag.). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s. Retrieved from http://www.haverford.edu/writingprogram/development/ Ephron.pdf
Halbfinger, D. M. (2009, April 11). At New School protest, truth depends on camera angle. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/12/nyregion/ 12protest.html?_r=2