Gullible II—Critical Thinking
"If you are waiting for the government to change, or society to change, or for some program or movement to be successful to find freedom, you will never be free."
In my previous article,
I explained some of the ways so-called freedom-oriented individuals, such as libertarians, Objectivists, various flavors of self-styled anarchists, anti-staters, egoists, and voluntaryists tend to be very gullible about the real nature of freedom.
This article deals with only one concept by which, not only the freedom-oriented, but almost everyone who is interested in what is true and right, has been taken in—the so-called concept of, "critical thinking."
If you are one who pushes the idea of critical thinking, or believes a lack of critical thinking is a problem, you have been taken in.
The idea of "critical thinking" was hatched in cultural Marxism, reinforced by logical positivism, and propagated throughout academia as critical theory, mostly in the form of post-modernism. What most honest and decent people believe they are advocating by, "critical thinking," is good, clear, non-contradictory reason, when in fact, every time they promote "critical thinking," they are promoting the leftist/collectivist/statist agenda.
[NOTE: If you are unfamiliar with cultural Marxism, logical positivism, critical theory, and post-modernism you will at least be familiar with the modern social and cultural ideas they spawned called "political correctness" and "multi-culturalism,"—so-called "critical thinking" came out of the same cesspool." I will not go into the history of critical thinking here, but will be glad to address the history if anyone shows a genuine interest in it.]
Intentional Muddling of Reason
Everyone knows one major failing of today's education is that children are no longer taught how to think for themselves. The liberal's and statists's have used this fact as a perfect opportunity to put over their own leftist views. They will teach people how to think, and it will be thinking that will always encourage their own multi-cultural political-correct view of the world. They call it, "critical thinking."
In a 2008 PJMedia article, "Sausages, enlightenment, and 'critical thinking'," Roger Kimball wrote: "Today, we can hardly go to the toilet without being urged to cultivate 'critical thinking.' ... A search for the phrase 'critical thinking' using the Google search engine brings up 2,290,200 references in .08 seconds. The first match, God help us, is to something called 'The Critical Thinking Community,' whose goal is 'to promote essential change in education and society through the cultivation of fair-minded critical thinking.'"
You might wonder what "critical thinking" has to do with promoting essential change in education and society or why it should be described as "fair-minded." But the concept is the invention of cultural Marxists and post-modernist liberal education professors and the description is exactly what is meant by, "critical thinking."
A Critical Definition
Michael Scriven & Richard Paul for the National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking Instruction have provided a brief description of critical thinking in their online article, "Defining Critical Thinking."
[NOTE: If you choose to research "critical thinking" for yourself you will find endless different, even contradictory, definitions and explanations of what it is supposed to be. I have chosen the following definition and explanation from The Foundation For Critical Thinking because it is the primary resource and preferred authority for all critical thinking teaching from kindergartens to graduate schools in the entire United States.]
This amazing brief document not only describes everything that is wrong with the idea of critical thinking but is a wonderful example of exactly what the process produces. We assume it is the kind of reasoning that went into this description.
Before examining the description itself, I must make this interesting observation. The most amazing thing to me about this description of thinking is the language. How it is possible to describe what thinking is without using any of the following words—logic, (although "logical" is now used twice), identity, identification, truth, true, false, correct, incorrect, real, reality, mind, (though 'openmindedly' and 'fairmindedness' are used) consciousness, fact, facts, factual, contradict, contradiction, non-contradiction, order, objective, or subjective, —is a feat that surpasses writing an article on chemistry without using the names of any elements or compounds. Not once, in this or any other description of what critical thinking means have I discovered one that actually describes what is meant by, "thinking," itself.
Words Have Meaning—Usually
The piece begins with a "summary" from which I quote the following paragraph.
"Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. In its exemplary form, it is based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness."
I had to read this phrase several times to be certain I had not misread it, "... universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions." I have not had a course in, "critical thinking," but suspect anyone who has would have no problem with this phrase—I do not mean they would understand it, I mean it would not bother them that they didn't.
Of course the phrase refers to the list that follows it. How or why they are described as, "universal intellectual values," or exactly what that means is not stated. One really would like to know how "depth, breadth, and fairness," are "intellectual values."
Other Kinds of Thinking—None of it Correct
Until now, you have probably believed, as I have, that there is only thinking, not different kinds of thinking. Of course we sometimes use the word thinking in a loose sort of way for anything that goes on in our heads, such as day-dreaming. We do not, however, suppose that thinking about music, or thinking about planting a garden, are different kinds or "modes" of thinking but the same kind of thinking about different things. But in critical thinking it's all different, as explained by this sentence:
"Critical thinking ... is incorporated in a family of interwoven modes of thinking, among them: scientific thinking, mathematical thinking, historical thinking, anthropological thinking, economic thinking, moral thinking, and philosophical thinking."
Exactly how anthropological thinking differs from scientific thinking, or even exactly what anthropological thinking might be is not explained. And exactly what one is suppose to make of "moral thinking," being a unique "mode" of thinking is not explained either and leaves one with the idea the other "modes" must be immoral, or at least amoral.
Critical Thinking "Method"
You can learn a lot about what "critical thinking" really is by examining how its proponents describe it:
"Critical thinking varies according to the motivation underlying it. When grounded in selfish motives ... it is typically intellectually flawed .... When grounded in fair mindedness and intellectual integrity, it is typically of a higher order intellectually."
Logically, there is absolutely no connection between one's motive for thinking and the quality of that thinking, but that observation pertains only to correct thinking which has knowledge as the goal, logic as the method, and truth as the objective. In critical thinking, logic and truth don't even get mentioned.
If we didn't know better, we might have the impression that "critical thinking" is nothing more than another way to put over post-modernist anti-reason, relativism, and altruism—there must be a mistake here, because the implication that "selfish motives" are contrary to "intellectual integrity" could not be intended—could it?
Collectivism vs. Individualism
The contrasting language, "grounded in selfish motives," vs. "grounded in fair mindedness," identifies the true intention of, "critical thinking." In the minds of these post-modernist relativists, phrases like "intellectual integrity," and "universal intellectual values," refer to the unstated principle that all purposes and values depend on and are for the sake of some amorphous, undefined concept called "society" or "humanity," or worse, "nature," (as in environmentalism). In that view, the interests and welfare of all individuals is subordinated to that, "ideal." The correct word for that view is "collectivism," which implicitly regards "mankind" as a kind of collective whole, with its own values and purposes, which transcend the values and purposes of all individuals—it thus regards the values and purposes of individuals as "selfish," and regards the sacrifice of those "selfish" individual's personal welfare an "ideal" of "a higher order intellectually."
In, "critical thinking," your life, your values, your purposes, your welfare are irrelevant, it is only the life, values, purposes, and welfare of those others that matter—any and all others but you, the individual.
The Real Purpose
It is obvious the critical thinking movement has nothing to do with teaching people to think or reason correctly. It is, in fact, a movement to corrupt correct thinking, a movement meant to put over an agenda.
To get a hint of what that agenda is, consider Mr. Scriven's & Mr. Paul's estimation of their fellow human beings:
"... everyone is subject to episodes of undisciplined or irrational thought ... blind spots ... tendencies towards self-delusion."
This attitude that people are generally unable to think, filled with blind spots, prejudices, and self-delusion is typical of leftist and collectivist thinking. The view is necessary to their world view, that "mankind" is generally depraved and helpless and requires a kind of intellectual elite to guide (and control) it. And, of course, it is they who comprise that intellectual elite.
From The Miniature Guide to The Human Mind:
"To live well is to live as a reasonable and ethical person. Yet humans are not by nature rational or ethical. Humans are predisposed to operate in the world in narrow terms of how it can serve them. Their brains are directly wired into their own pleasure and pain, not that of others. They do not inherently consider the rights and needs of others. Yet humans have the raw capacity to become reasonable and ethical persons, to develop as fair-minded skilled thinkers."
To live well as a human being one must live in total compliance with the requirements of human nature, as conscious, rational, volitional beings. That necessarily means living by means of objective reason, and in terms of the values that reason leads them to. To say, "humans are not by nature rational or ethical," is an absurd contradiction that implies our nature requires us to live by means of reason and values but it is not our nature to reason or have values. If it is not human nature to be rational and ethical, where do reason and ethical values come from?
The rest demonstrates what is being put over, and the name of it is, "altruism," the ethical view behind collectivism, that assumes that the purpose of an individuals life is not their own life, but others, which is anyone but themselves, their neighbors, their community, their society, or the whole world.
The absurd statement, "their brains are directly wired into their own pleasure and pain, not that of others," is like saying, "they can only see with their own eyes, not those of others." If these idiots really see something wrong with this, the problem is nature's, not anyone's ethics.
But here's the punch line, "They do not inherently consider the rights and needs of others." This is actually a lie, but it is true that the needs of others cannot be anyone's first concern, but all rational individuals are always concerned with the rights of others, that is, their true right to their own life, free from the interference of anyone else, and no productive individuals can be successful without considering at least the desires of others if they wish to sell their products or services to them.
[NOTE: This "needs" idea must always be explained. Needs are relative, there are only desires. One who has no desires, needs nothing. Needs are whatever is required to fulfill a desired goal or objective. There are no absolute needs.]
A Collectivist Ethics
From Ethical Reasoning:
"The proper role of ethical reasoning is to highlight acts of two kinds: those which enhance the well-being of others—that warrant our praise—and those that harm or diminish the well-being of others—and thus warrant our criticism. Developing one’s ethical reasoning abilities is crucial because there is in human nature a strong tendency toward egotism, prejudice, self-justification, and self-deception. These tendencies are exacerbated by powerful sociocentric cultural influences that shape our lives—not least of which is the mass media. These tendencies can be actively combated only through the systematic cultivation of fair-mindedness, honesty, integrity, self-knowledge, and deep concern for the welfare of others. We can never eliminate our egocentric tendencies absolutely and finally. But we can actively combat them as we learn to develop as ethical persons."
There are three lies here: false dichotomy, package dealing, and human depravity.
False dichotomy. The lie that all human acts fall into one of two categories, those that benefit others and those that harm others, is a common leftist deception. It implies that whatever is a benefit or gain to an individual can only be by means of harm or loss to someone else. It is the uncivilized view that anything one does from their own self-interest automatically harms others, or that anything an individual gains is at the cost of someone else. It intentionally evades the moral view that what any individual does of value for himself, will either benefit others or have no affect on them at all. It is a vile denial of the basis of civilized human relations, that the only proper relationship between men are those entered into by each individual for their own mutual benefit.
Package deal. This is perhaps the most common means of putting over a lie. By grouping ideas for both good and bad, and presenting the entire group as either good or bad, good is represented as bad (as in this case) or bad is represented as good. "Egotism, prejudice, self-justification, and self-deception" are actually contradictory concepts.
"Egotism," is a slur word for, "self-interest." If one is truly interested in what is best for themselves, they would never allow their thinking to be compromised by prejudice or self-deception, which are both contrary to one's self-interest. As for self-justification, if one is just, it would be morally wrong to accept false blame. The target of this package deal is the repudiation of the individual in an attempt to convince him, he is only ethical or reasonable when acting as the self-sacrificial slave of others.
Human depravity. It is not the Christian view of depravity, but the socialist view of humanity that all are born with "the powerful human tendency toward" the supposed evils presented in the package deal. This assault on the volitional nature of man implies that humans are born with some kind of natural "tendency" toward evil which must be controlled. Not to worry, the "critical thinking" evangelists are here to save mankind from his "sinful" (e.g. selfish) nature by teaching him how every thought for his own welfare is evil, and only thoughts "for others" are rational and ethical.
Sumner's Definition of Critical Thinking
To illustrate that this theory of "critical thinking" has been percolating throughout society for a long time and to illustrate what the ultimate objective is, especially in education, the following is William Graham Sumner's "What is Critical Thinking?" from 1906.
"[Critical thinking is] ... the examination and test of propositions of any kind which are offered for acceptance, in order to find out whether they correspond to reality or not. The critical faculty is a product of education and training. It is a mental habit and power. It is a prime condition of human welfare that men and women should be trained in it. It is our only guarantee against delusion, deception, superstition, and misapprehension of ourselves and our earthly circumstances.
"Education is good just so far as it produces well-developed critical faculty ... A teacher of any subject, who insists on accuracy and a rational control of all processes and methods, and who holds everything open to unlimited verification and revision, is cultivating that method as a habit in the pupils. Men educated in it cannot be stampeded . . . They are slow to believe. They can hold things as possible or probable in all degrees, without certainty and without pain. They can wait for evidence and weigh evidence ... They can resist appeals to their dearest prejudices. Education in the critical faculty is the only education of which it can be truly said that it makes good citizens."
The ultimate purpose of the critical thinking movement is identical to that of modern education, not to produce self-reliant, objectively rational, productive, successful individuals but, "good citizens," which are those most useful to the programs and purposes of the state.
[NOTE: This article is not meant as a criticism of those who use the phrase, "critical thinking," to mean good or correct thinking, which I think is what most people do mean. It is meant to illustrate just how insidiously deceptive the leftist agenda and program is, and how easy it is to begin using their language without being aware of the implications.
There is also a warning here. If you go on using, "critical thinking," to mean good, or clear, or careful thinking, there is no real harm done, but if you find others using it, especially in your children's school or any academic field, or in the news, or in philosophy, it will not be your meaning, but the cultural Marxist meaning that is intended.
Finally, the word, "critical," in "critical thinking," does not imply "careful," or, "rigorous," but "doubtful." In critical thinking it means questioning everything, not holding anything as absolute or true; it means addressing all ideas with cynicism, and all knowledge with skepticism. It is a very dangerous and pervasive view.]
[NOTE: If you are interested in the connection between Cultural Marxism, Critical Theory, and Critical Thinking, the Wikipedia article, "Critical Theory", makes all the connections. At the end of the article is a list of "subfields," which includes: Critical ethnography, Critical legal studies, Critical management studies, Critical pedagogy, Critical philosophy, Critical psychiatry, Critical psychology, Critical race theory, and Critical thinking. There is almost no field this cultural Marxist hegemony has not infected and perverted.]