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Critical Thinking - A Lost Art?

8-14-14

Some Notes From a Detached Observer.

For a long Period of Observation within my collective community, I have pondered the actions of my friends and fellow man... These observations and resultant conclusions have, for long and long, left me with some rather uncomfortable conclusions:

1. I am beginning to feel that, for many of the folks I deal with regularly, there is a trend toward habitualism, or more precisely, a sort of 'Flying on Automatic' in their daily lives and actions.
2. There is a sort of drifting away from serious and introspective thought and followup actions.
3. More and more, today, I seem to sense a lack of goal-oriented drive in the daily lives of breadwinners and students, within our society.
4. I believe that people are becoming uncomfortable with plain, old-fashioned thinking today, and many of them go through their days, and lives, literally half asleep.

This a serious concern for me -- indeed for all of us -- here in America today. This country was founded upon drive and ambitious entrepreneurial attitudes, and underlies the wealth , conveniences we enjoy, and general education and welfare which is identified with Americans everywhere in the World today.

I believe that attitudes today are drifting away from the attitudes we used to take so much for granted when we were youngsters. It used to be, when we wanted to do something, or accomplish some proud task, we started by thinking about the problems we wanted to overcome, and began to catalogue the ways we could start solving the problems at hand. We thought about it - each of us in many different ways, to be sure, -- but we thought about it. We mulled it over in our minds and began to think about the many ways we could approach a problem or issue, and we talked with our friends and associates about these possibilities.

The resultant conversations and possible conclusions were batted around, and we usually came up with some reasonable solution. Maybe not the best solution, but something workable. Others sometimes began thinking about what we had come up with, and some of them thought up better solutions. We spent time on such things. We were always looking out for some better way of doing things. Mostly, out minds were awake - and we always thinking.

Lately, I have noticed a change. There is more wealth, largely due to our drives and successes from the results of the thoughts and attitudes within our society. There is more wealth, and with this wealth there seems to be a growing attitude of Entitlement within the members of our current society. The President has decreed that the homeless and unemployed shall all have a free cell phones.

Nobody needs to worry greatly about working, unemployment is available to most everyone who can get to the Unemployment Office. Everyone has access to online assistance. SIRI, in some form, is available to everyone. Why bother to think, to work, to do anything mentally active? Why bother to study, learn, remember?

Children, and lately, more and more young people, no longer have to find things to do - they all have access to free games and online privileges . Twitter is available, Facebook is rampant with virtually everyone from age Two to Seniors . Tablets are everywhere. Phone companies mount massive money earning campaigns to have everyone buy the latest cellphone every eleven point six months. Nobody is encouraged to learn or memorize any phone numbers, historical facts, addresses, directions, or mathematics - even the simplest mathematics. Not any more. - You can get all that stuff on-line, -- why bother to do any thinking anymore?

No one needs any money to buy anything anymore - if you want it, some one or some program for the needy, or the government, or special interest group, -- will make it available for "no money down" and it goes home with you right now.

Critical Thinking is going the way of the Dodo -- for those who do not know what happened to the Dodo - or even do not know what the Dodo is... check on-line.

Critical Thinking: Too many folks today are going through life on Automatic. Their minds are half asleep. They go through day after day on Cruise-Control, and never seem to be really awake. We see them everywhere. Their responses are monosyllabic, they do not hear when you speak to them. They go down the streets with others who are physically in each other's presence, but they are mentally elsewhere.

They do not -- indeed many of them, I believe - cannot function without assistance from their electronic devices.

In a study concerning what happens to those deprived of the input from these devices, conducted by the University of Virginia in Charlottsville, team leader and psychologist Timothy Wilson found that most people today (not limited to children, homeless or teenagers) prefer to do just about anything to avoid thinking quietly by themselves, within their own minds, from just six to fifteen minutes, including giving themselves an electric shock! (Science News Magazine, Aug 9, 2014, pp12.).

In a study of 146 college students at the University of Santa Barbara, who handed over their phones and sat alone for six to fifteen minutes, most students reported afterward that they had difficulty concentrating and their minds wandered. Half of them stated that the experiment was at least mildly unpleasant. (ibid)

Solitary thought helps people make sense out of past experiences, a vital but difficult exercise that may explain the discomfort that people felt in these studies, says Jonathan Smallwood, a psychologist at University of York, in England. Furthermore, widespread use of smart-phones and computers to deal with boredom may be undermining the capacity for self-reflection, he added (Science News Magazine, Aug 9, 2014, pp12.).

Far too many people today live vicarious lives. They game themselves to satisfaction. I am concerned. I love America. I worry about the Wolves beyond our Borders. I worry about the infrastructure within our Borders. I worry about my Children and I worry about your Children.

Wake up, America!


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