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Whose mind is it anyway?

It makes no sense to ridicule those who place blind faith in Pseudoscience, only to become someone who places blind faith in Science, Politics, Philosophy, or any other kind of external Authority.

Blind faith is blind faith even if one’s dogmatic commitments are anointed by Academia.

To invoke the words of Herbert V. Guenther, “There is not the slightest difference whether one is fettered by a chain of gold or a rope of straw.”

There are some who think “skepticism” means “the refusal to uncritically accept paranormal claims.”

Skepticism actually means “the refusal to uncritically accept ANY claims INCLUDING so-called ‘normal’ ones.”

There are some who think “free-thinking” means freedom from religious authority.

Free-thinking actually means “freedom from ANY kind of authority which discourages a person from thinking for themselves and conducting their own research.”

The pursuit of Truth is not a quest to figure out whose words we should uncritically believe; it’s a journey that involves learning how to use our own logic, our own intuition, our own investigative efforts, and our own experience as a means of understanding the universe.

So, here’s my Independence Day message:

Always, always, always think for yourself.

It’s not only your most reliable safeguard against manipulation, deceit, and regret, but it also offers you the greatest chance at forming perceptions that are consistent with YOUR convictions and YOUR experiences.

I don’t know where freedom ends, but it almost certainly begins at the moment when we assert our right to be unbound by any form of ideological coercion.

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  1. Good thinking. The only problem is that majority of people would like to be driven, rather than being in the driver’s seat. Besides, does every subject that you encounter demand original thinking?

    1. Thank you. I agree with your description of the majority of people, but I am in the company of those who are trying to turn the tide by advocating critical thinking and skeptical inquiry at every turn. I have encountered many subjects that fail to encourage these attributes. Hopefully, we can cause those numbers to decrease one new critical thinker at a time.

    2. Hello TG,

      Very interesting points.

      I don’t see the majority of people as liking to be driven. I see them as possessing common sense but overwhelmed by the
      onslaught of confounding ideologies especially what’s coming out of the modern education system. Where words and ideas
      are to burn brightly and illuminate, theirs darken and obscure.
      Not everyone thinks on a grand universal scale. But most have a large capacity and longing for the truth, when it’s presented. And recognise it when they see it. Most importantly, they’re not taught to think for themselves.

      A reminder that most of the modern intelligentsia pouring out
      of the halls of academia are our present politicians, lawyers,
      professors, media, so called ‘specialists,’ etc., where janitors cleaning the halls of these ivory towers make more sense.

      Historically, the demise of civilizations are directly connected to what was being taught in their academic circles. Over time, the decline of reason and light, overtaken by irrationality and darkness, and brute authority.

      As for your point does every subject demand original thinking? Tantalizing.

      How do the building blocks of knowledge work. And when we can accept basic axioms and premises and go from there? When don’t we have to reinvent the wheel? Ah, the stuff of ideas and philosophy.

      E.g.., we’ll run complicated machinery like cars, TVs, iPod’s, etc. without ever knowing how to build them, but trust that most of the thought that goes into them makes sure they run. Millions of them. Because most of us have a healthy self-enlightening to want thing s to work.

      Excuse my lengthy post. May I suggest that your thoughtful
      points generated this?


      1. Hi Alana,

        i know you were writing to TG, but I’ll hop in here for fun.

        In addition to your points about the failures of academia and the contemporary obfuscation of knowledge, I would also cite the love of comfort, the desire for convenience, and the need for security as major factors as to why we allow others to do our thinking for us.

        Sometimes, thinking is hard work. And as fashionable as it is for many to assert that “if something were true, it would be easy to grasp”, there are certain insights we simply can’t get unless we’re willing to “stick with the question” and not give in to our need for an immediately gratifying answer.

        In cases where we allow politicians and educators to manipulate us, for instance, it’s often because we’d rather be told comforting cliches than messy complex truths.

        We say we want the truth, but sometimes we punish the people who give it to us and reward the people who tell us what we want to hear. We’re not always honest with ourselves about what we really want.

        Coming from a religious background, I can also say that, even in a context where people have “ready-made” answers from the Bible, most would prefer for a minister to read and interpret it for them. “Just tell me what it says and how I can apply it to my life, so I can get back to work” is a very prevalent mentality. Even when the Pastor says, “read the bible for yourself”, many of his parishioners prefer to opt out and let him do the “dirty work” for them.

        We have very strong incentives, independently of political manipulation and academic failure, for letting others think for us. In many cases, political manipulation and academic failure are a reflection of that.

        There are many benefits that come with letting ourselves be driven. Being honest with ourselves about how much we like those benefits is a major component in becoming more critical in our thinking.

        Your thoughts?

        1. Hi T.K.

          I agree with you—in the present context.

          How did it get to this?

          Victor Hugo wrote about comprachicos who roamed throughout Europe
          deliberately disfiguring children—to entertain. These children were either abducted or sold by their parents. He called it reverse obstetrics. The scars
          were visible. (The Man Who Laughs.)

          Today, modern education performs as comprachicos of the mind and the scars
          aren’t visible. But the damage shows.

          I believe we are schooled, educated, indoctrinated, acclimatized to see thinking as hard and to follow the leader. That it took several generations to do this. That
          our education has been in decline for some time.

          I don’t agree with the sacred cow of public education. It is a law of gravity that if
          the gov’t sees itself as paying for our education, it will dictate what goes into our
          minds. Even though it is the taxpayer paying for it, it is the mentality of gov’t and
          it’s bureaucracy to want to see itself as paying for it . It is a hotbed of self-
          reinforcement and authoritarianism.

          Now most of one’s quality of education comes after formal schooling. But by then the many affected adversely by modern education view learning as tedious and tiresome, and have succumbed to its numbing, dry-as-toast, anti-intellectual posture. And have learned to think that the only alternative is to let the gov’t look after them.

          The prior generation/s of parents are products of this and raising their children
          likewise. And most present-day teachers. are in this category.

          But I don’t see this as inevitable.

          Whatever happened to the profound gripping purpose of education that it’s not
          there to teach us how to make a living. It’s there to teach us to live. We can look after the rest.

          There are alternatives.

          Remember “Stand and Deliver?” He’s teaching grade 10 barrio students
          calculus, against poverty, drugs, crime… Add they write the exam and pass. So
          much so, that the school board thought they’d cheated. So they had to
          rewrite the exam and got even higher marks. He was showing them that they
          could do it, and a way out.

          I see a grass roots intellectual revolution developing. In surprising quarters. Much of it with the help of the internet. Unlike 40 years ago, there is access to more knowledge than ever.

          Ultimately, the world moves ahead on the minds and shoulders of very few men.

  2. To not think for yourself is to become someone else’s thinking. If presented with new ideas that seem to possess value mull them over, turn them, examine them, and make them your own after due consideration, but make it your choice.

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