Tag Archives: critical thinking

Political Nonsense

 

“Thinking is difficult, that’s why most people judge.”
— Carl G. Jung

 

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h4>It seems lately that everyone in the states or who follows the circus that is United States election 2016 has decided to pick a side. For many that means picking one candidate and sticking to them through thick and thin, extolling the positives and getting angry at whomever would suggest that there are any negatives.
“Negatives, that belongs to those other guys who are totally evil.” Strange enough when people acknowledge the opposite’s party candidates as having no good points or justifications. When they burn in effigy those whose views are the most similar to their own candidates, it makes you wonder. Case in point, the Democrats since there are only two. Both of the candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have stated that they would prefer each other to win by a large factor over any of the Republican candidates. Yet people are defending each other on social media and virtually coming to blows against those who have the temerity to prefer the other candidate.
This tendency to go “all out” jingoistic towards a candidate without any willingness to look at the downsides seems to come down to at least two increasing tendencies I have perceived.
1) People, encouraged by the media, public education systems and most private ones, seem to be using less and less critical thought these days. They either love or hate the candidate without seeing the flaws (and both Bernie and Hillary have some weak points). I have yet to notice anything or anyone so perfect in any situation that that have no flaws yet this inability (unwillingness) to look at it will in the long run have consequences.

2) Many people seem to be over identifying with their candidates so anything critical said about the candidate gets taken as a personal insult.
So much of human thought and philosophy has been built around being able to see and even argue from more than one side of a proposition that to abandon this ability or not develop it in the first place seems to me to be a manifestation of the dumbing down of society.

I don’t know that either Bernie or Hillary can ultimately benefit this country. At this point I would be happy with whoever getting in not furthering harm.
Blessings, G

 

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A Location DreamedA Location Dreamed by G A Rosenberg

 

ContactContact by G A Rosenberg

 

Controversy

 

“I shall look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source of misunderstandings.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

 

File this one under I should have known the gun was loaded. Facebook can be an interesting place where we find ourselves in the cause of making a point defending things we disagree with. Recently an acquaintance on FB (a FB acquaintance is a friend whom you don’t have much conversation with other than occasionally liking a posting by them) got himself in trouble with many people by admitting publicly in several places that he felt an attraction for young women. He did not say he ever acted on it. He just admitted to having a fetish for it. He chose among other places to post this in a bunch of groups that are associated with the Anonymous movement. One of Anonymous’s big targets is pedophiles so it was rather like wearing a gestapo uniform to a synagogue. He rather enjoyed the blowup on his profile page with assorted death threats and harangues.
I believe in protecting kids from pedophiles. It is not a crime I find condonable. Yet to me the idea of attacking someone for what they think, particularly something that they cannot help is rather a waste of time. Would I ever let him babysit for me or anyone else? I definitely would not. Do I think that he should be lauded for making such a statement? No and yet I would rather have someone identify themselves as a possible predator than to keep it secret. It would be so much easier to keep my family safe if everyone labeled themselves like household products. “Danger: May mug you.”
“Do not combine this person with alcohol”
“Texts while driving”
“Psychopathic Serial Killer”
“May be attracted towards children”
Anybody with enough self-knowledge to label themselves has saved me the trouble of trying to discern possible danger. Are they a hero? Hell no, but at least they are warning you. So many people don’t.
Kids these days in the west are raised to be incredibly savvy about this stuff. Between media and school, they are well aware of stranger danger. This is so much the case that at times I get concerned that they are raised with too much fear and paranoia. I grew up in a friendly neighbourhood and miss the fact that they are somewhat a thing of the past. Now a friendly hello to anyone may be looked upon with suspicion. Yes western civilization children are probably safer than they have been in any time in history and yet there is a price in fear and freedom that is paid for the security. It is a good balance to keep in mind.
Anyway in the conversation, I attempted to point out that this guy had committed no crime merely identified an impulse that could be considered unhealthy and that it was not worth the time and emotional energy to attack him. Of course this led to suspicion towards me (and another guy saying much the same thing) for ‘defending’ him. The next three hours of my time was spent defending a point of view I only half believed in against people who were listening to their emotions more than they were understanding any points I made.
I wasn’t defending the man. I was defending the idea that someone can’t be persecuted when a crime has not been committed. Who, reading this has not had thoughts that if acted on, would land us in prison or make us pariahs of society? We all have our shadow and our time is better spent working on ourselves than attacking others. It is all to easy to point fingers at the shit heads of the world as a way to avoid looking at our own stuff.
If we feel that a crime is beyond the pale then do things to either help the victims or prevent the crimes. Persecuting someone who is looking for the attention is feeding these impulses and not preventing them. A better form of prevention is to help these people work through their issues so they don’t end up acting out. That is not something that will happen on Facebook.
So lessons learned. If you stand in between a witch hunt and its target, you will become a target yourself. You can’t force people to see a bigger picture or to think critically. Mores the pity.
Blessings, G

 

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Life PassagesLife Passages by G A Rosenberg

 

Communication BreakdownCommunication Breakdown by G A Rosenberg

 

Agreeable

 

“So, in the interests of survival, they trained themselves to be agreeing machines instead of thinking machines. All their minds had to do was to discover what other people were thinking, and then they thought that, too.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

 

I often try to be agreeable even when I am challenged by the ideas of another. I tend to go by adages such as Ken Wilber’s that “Everyone is right but partial.” If I listen long enough surely I will begin to understand the ways in which they are right and be able to integrate that into my own world view. I even try to do this in my relationships. I know I don’t hold a monopoly on truth (no one does) so surely there are ways in which I am both wrong and correct in most situations. Until I perceive how I tend to agree. At least it keeps the other person talking and explaining when they feel I am open to what they have to say. Eventually tho I ask questions for clarifications. If something at that point doesn’t feel right, I will examine my own biases in my outlook towards life and also test to see whether the person speaking has put any critical thought into what they are saying. Have they considered that they may be wrong? Have they looked at other viewpoints? If they have, have they just leaped from one fixed point to another without considering how to integrate the two? At that point I either reach agreement within myself and have something new to integrate or I disagree. This whole process usually takes anywhere from 30 seconds to a few months depending on how new the ideas are to me, how fixed the person is in their viewpoint and my willingness and availability to continue the conversation.
Too many people find either a person or a group of people with whom they share some ideas and start agreeing with them no matter what they say. They sometimes take it to the extent that they stop examining their own thought processes in their need for approval from this group or leader. This is the type of machine like thinking that all too often leads to ‘one solution fits all’ or ‘if you don’t agree with us, you’re evil’ type thinking and in the worse cases religious extremism, intolerance and war. At the very least it is a form of mental, emotional and spiritual suicide.
Blessings, G

 

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ReManifestRemanifest by G A Rosenberg

 

Inside the SnakeInside the Snake by G A Rosenberg

 

Star PortalStar Portal by G A Rosenberg

 

Learning Critical Thought

 

“We live not only in a world of thoughts, but also in a world of things. Words without experience are meaningless.”
— Vladimir Nabokov

 

Don’t speak unless you know what you are talking about would seem to make a lot of sense. I know I’ve thought it enough times when my fifteen year old son who knows as only a fifteen year old can with total certainty what life’s about starts displaying loudly his opinions on things like marriage, jobs, relationships, politics etc. Yet if we don’t present our thoughts for inspection and dialectic than how can we test them? Is it not also experience to say what we’re thinking and have it challenged so that we can think critically about it? Critical thinking seems as I advance in years to be becoming more and more important and yet fewer and fewer people seem to practice it. Without critical thought about our experiences how do we put them into context. It is only by constantly challenging our own ideas by either discussion or experience that we can truly grow.
Blessings, G

 

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Setian EchoesSetian Echoes by G A Rosenberg

 

FireBrand (Aim)Firebrand (Aim) by G A Rosenberg
Exploding Into a New FrameExploding Into a New Frame by G A Rosenberg

 

Choosing Memes

 

“When people get immersed in a culture with strong new memes, it tends to be a sink-or-swim proposition. Either you change your mind, succumbing to peer pressure and adopting the new memes as your own, or you struggle with the extremely uncomfortable feeling of being surrounded by people who think you’re crazy or inadequate. The fact that you probably think the same about them is little consolation.”
–Richard Brodie, Virus of the mind

 

According to Wikipedia, “The meme, analogous to a gene, was conceived as a “unit of culture” (an idea, belief, pattern of behaviour, etc.) which is “hosted” in the minds of one or more individuals, and which can reproduce itself, thereby jumping from mind to mind.” In other words its a catchphrase, a slogan, words with images attach that we spread like lol catz on these inter webs. I love Richard Brodie’s book on memeology, Virus of the Mind tho the implications of this quote has my mind reeling this evening.
There have been several political situations in recent memory that I have felt were at an impasse because at their basis they were competing narratives. Two competing historical stories that were at war with each other. Unfortunately I was mistaken. What was really happening was a battle of the memes that the narratives bred.
Competing narratives can be resolved with critical thought and acceptance that neither side carries the whole truth. However once slogans and catchphrases become part of the armament that two sides carry into battle, there can be no real winner because memes tend to turn off any possibility of critical thought whatsoever. You can recognize the process easily enough. Instead of trying to understand multiple sides of a dispute, people start shouting statistics at each other or slogans or half-truths that everybody knows. As soon as people do this, then they are spreading memes not trying to solve problems. Occasionally one set of memes will overpower or gain more support than the other and that may resolve things but usually a war of memes leads to mutual destruction either quickly or slower. The main problem with memes is that they are forever reproducing themselves and tend to loop where critical thinking tends to be open ended (Thesis, antithesis, synthesis which leads to a new thesis etc..)
We have the ability to decide what memes we expose ourselves to or at least which ones we chose to replicate. Some memes are positive, life and thought affirming. Tho almost always when we start quoting statistics and spreading slogans they replace our thought processes.
Blessings, G

 

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Insubstantial TranSubstanceInsubstantial Transubstantiation by G A Rosenberg

 

Romance Novel Cover For a Surreal AgeRomance Cover For a Surreal Age by G A Rosenberg

 

Critical Thought

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”
— Buddha

 

I like to think of myself as being pretty open to most ideas. Oh, I can and will cheerfully discuss almost any topic and come at it from one point of view or another, tho I know that often truth lies somewhere in the middle of any given issue especially when it comes to concepts of history, politics, philosophy or spirituality.
There are occasions tho when I read or hear something that someone has wrote or said and it sets my hair on edge.
A friend of mine had brought up the subject of the Middle East, specifically Palestine and Israel on his page and people were discussing it back and forth. Since it is a subject I have researched quite a bit, I brought up a point or two. Someone who disagreed with me first asked me to cite some sources and when I did and suggested a few other topics to research, he replied “You’re contradicting what I’ve been taught in school, you shouldn’t expect me to dig around to support *your* claims.” I was surprised. I was expecting him to examine other points of views yes, but I had no interest in him supporting any claims I was making.When someone disagrees with me, I love to be given a chance to examine where they are coming from. Some of my greater leaps of understanding have come from being willing to look at and grock (understand) another point of view. Isn’t that what critical thinking is all about?
Blessings, G

 

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Mood PieceMood Piece by G A Rosenberg

 

The Beating of WingsThe Beating of Wings by G A Rosenberg

Quote of the Day – January 23 2013

“The essence of the independent mind lies not in what it thinks, but in how it thinks.”
― Christopher Hitchens

 

Why do so many of us desire to have answers to questions spoon-fed to us as opposed to actually putting thought into not only what the question is but how we can apply it to ourselves and our life. Case in point  (an example from a friend of mine)

AN EXERCISE ON THE CRITICAL EXAMINATION OF ANY GIVEN TOPIC:

Step 1. BRAINSTORMING (Otherwise known as ‘Listing the Possibilities).

The importance of this step is so that we can have a variety of possible explanations before we can even go onto step 2 – to decide WHICH of the possible explanations are more likely.

First, an analogy for discussion:

“At a Yoga Retreat, at the very end of being taught a Kriya technique, it was question time.. and after a while an Australian girl piped up nonchalantly… “So, what does it all mean, really?”

She asked it as if in passing… as if it didn’t matter so much.

And the teacher replied to her, “What you just asked is the ‘WHO AM I?” question… and you have to increase in INTENSITY for that question… until nothing else matters, before you are even in the STATE OF MIND to HEAR the answer.”

Now upon hearing this story, a woman I know got incensed that the guru would play what she saw as head games and impose his ‘trip’ on her, No matter how I tried to get her to see the story as an exercise in ‘thinking’ about and through the question rather than  avoiding thinking by criticizing the teacher’s method, she refused getting more and more incensed. Now this woman I respect a lot and the amount of energy and vehemence she put into avoiding thinking about why the teacher may give that instruction to the girl tho thinking the question through brought out at least 5 different possibilities each of which I could apply to how I learn things…

NOW – What possible explanations are there for what happened in this analogy?

POSSIBILITY No 1. IMPOSING. “it leans into the dogma of “you don’t understand unless you are on my plane of understanding…to me, this is a form of mental masturbation …. You have to be at my “level of intensity”..how preposterous!!”

POSSIBILITY No 2. SPOON FEEDING. She was a blind girl buying whatever she can get from any so-called teacher.

POSSIBILITY No.3. ENGAGEMENT. He was trying to get her to engage.

POSSIBILITY No.4. AVOIDANCE. “That is not your own understanding, you just gave some story about some guru, I want to hear your understanding.”

POSSIBILITY No.5. POINTLESSNESS. “There is every other option..we could go on to infinity with creating “the end of the story” or “The point to the story” but what does that accomplish?”

What other possibilities are there?

The above has made me wonder at a trend I see a lot. People unwilling to engage and learn from situations and stories that enter their lives. I have benefited so much from actually thinking about what people are saying to me that this puzzles me greatly
Blessings, G
 

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Knight SkyWatch
Night Skywatch by G A Rosenberg

 

Simply Red Mandalasm
Simply Red Mandala by G A Rosenberg