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I think both are important, but they are linked. New facts lead to new ways of thinking, but not all ways of thinking rely on facts. Some rely entirely on facts, others avoid facts completely. It is important to look at an issue from different angles. Once we stop doing this, we fall into the pit of stagnation as a society.
I am glad Pohnpei mentioned science, clearly new discoveries in terms of perhaps alternative forms of energy, etc., are important. But I tend to think that in order to discover those, different approaches and different ways of thinking about things are the first step so I would argue that the statement is true.
I'm not sure that the two can be separated. New ways of thinking about things already known is valuable only if it produces usable valid results. These results would be represented by data and facts. So the two go hand in hand. New ways of thinking are essential as it produces new information.
Wow... good question.
In science, I would say that this is not completely true. It is often the case in science that new data are needed in order to find new ways of thinking. For example, the Kepler telescope is being used to look for planets outside our own solar system. This type of new data will bring us important new knowledge that could not be gained simply by rethinking what we already know.
Similarly to litteacher8, I think that both are intimitley related. discovering new ways of thinking leads people to discover new facts, simply through revision and justification of their previous 'facts'. For example, something that was thought to be a fact in the year 1897 may not be so today- this is because people have been able to falsify it, which leads to new knowledge and new ways of thinking. However, it is worth noting that new data or facts sometimes comes to us naturally as we live.
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