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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Have people forgotten how to think?

I just had an in depth and very intelligent discussion with a patient.  The theme was:  have people forgotten how to think?  Have people become so complacent with their machines that they've lost the ability to do their own thinking?   Are kids these days too eager to accept what their teachers say without questioning them or challenging them? 

"Many people accept global warming as a fact.  Yet it's only a theory," my patient said.

I explained that when my kid came home from school the other day my son said I shouldn't squirt that spray because I might be adding to global warming.  I told him he should be careful because global warming is a theory, and while it should be respected, one must still understand it's not a fact. And people still need to use sprays.

One of my friend's kids told me that he was upset when he learned the founding fathers were racist.  They created a flawed Constitution.  I asked him what he meant.  He said that the founders created a document where blacks were only considered 3/5 of a resident of this country. 

That's what he was taught in school.  I asked him, "What do you think of the U.S. Constitution?  What do you think of your freedom?  What do you think of America?"

The boy said, "I love it all."

"Okay," I said, "If it weren't for the 3/5 rule you wouldn't have any of that." 

He looked at me cockeyed and confused, "What do you mean?"

"What I mean is that the 3/5 rule was needed to get Southern states to ratify the Constitution.  Most of the founders were not racists.  Yet they knew the only way to get the Constitution passed was the way they did.  This was why it's still called the great compromise. The flaws, they knew, would be ironed out later.  The signers knew once the Constitution was signed it could be amended, and amended it was.

When I was in school we were taught the first Thanksgiving was the Pilgrims thanking the Indians.  Yet after reading about it further on my own I learned that this wasn't true at all.  The Pilgrims threw the first Thanksgiving to thank God for teaching them about capitalism

The first few years they ran their little society based on socialism, and then they decided to try capitalism and let each man keep what he makes.  This worked so well crops flourished.  The Indians were there and they helped, but they weren't the only ones being thanked:  the main purpose for the party was to thank God for teaching them about capitalism, a technique that gave pilgrims an incentive to work harder. 

My patient said the following:
"How many people today just get their news from one source and accept it as fact?  If they don't do their own research there's no way of them knowing what they are reading is BS.  The same can be said of students at school.
"Do kids know how to add in their head?  Would they know if the teller made a mistake and screwed them out of $10.  Or do they simply just assume the machine was correct.  If the machines stopped working, would people be able to take care of themselves?  To feed themselves and their families?  
"Our parents grew up on farms.  They raised their own meet, cooked the meet, prepared the meet.  They killed the animals and ate the meat and used every single part of that animal.  They wasted nothing.  Then they sold the meet, and counted money, which came in bills and coins, and they had to figure the correct change." 
"They built their own houses.  Now we are so used to our modern way of living, our machines, that most of us wouldn't know what to do if the electricity went out.  We've forgotten how to think.  We've forgotten how to challenge each other.  We've forgotten how to listen to opposing opinions. Not all of us, but a good many. 
"Can you imagine how lopsided the presidential polling would be if people payed attention to politics instead of having their heads in their fantasy worlds.  In 1980 when hostages were held by Iran people cared and it influenced the election.  Today we have strife in Egypt and Libya and people sniff their noses and place their faces back in their dream world: their Facebook, their X-Box, their Wii, their Kindle, their Zuma Blitz game.  That's why Obama and Romney are tied in the polls, because people today are tuned out."
So have people forgotten how to think?


Brian Carew said...

I really enjoyed reading this and it made me reevaluate my way of thinking. It is true, too many people these days believe whatever it is they are told. No on wants to look stupid, so it's easier to more often than not just follow the crowd and not ask questions. Not to mention that our generation is quite apathetic. Not many people go out of their way to actually research something for themselves. With social media, it is so easy to get a message, idea, or whatever sent across the globe. Although this may seems like a great thing, random BS can be spread just as easily as good information.

Anyways, I just wanted to share a few thoughts. Thanks for the posting =)

Rick Frea said...

Thanks. I like your description of people today as "apathetic." I think I have to agree with that.

Chad Hasselius said...

I had the same observation when taking a chemistry class. There was only like 2-3 laws in the whole book, while everything else (quantum mechanics, bonding theory, subatomic particles, spin, etc.) was all theory. You can't observe what goes on at the subatomic level, however just as Einstein knew that E = MC2 before we actually split the atom, scientists know certain other things through deduction and calculation.

As for global warming, it can be observed in a jar: