Endangered: Critical Thinking

Critical thinking has been weakened, is under attack, and is a dying thing. Story time.

In a chat with one of my professors during my last semester at uni, they asked me what I thought the purpose of college was.

“It’s supposed to develop critical thinking and the technical skills to back that up,” I said.

Then they said okay and the chat was over while I sat there like …okay… since I felt like we’d opened a can of worms. I decided it was time to eat the worms too.

“But you didn’t ask if I think it’s accomplished that.”

“Did it?”

“No!”

I already had critical thinking. That was instilled in me by my mother and by being raised in a hands-off manner.

Go outside was the mantra of my childhood. I wasn’t allowed to play inside for too long and I definitely wasn’t allowed to play video games (which I didn’t have) or watch TV (which we didn’t have) until I was 12 or so.

That taught me to understand the world on my terms. And the terms it forces on you in different situations. My friends and I learned to navigate by getting lost, learned to skateboard and bike better and faster by getting hurt and getting left behind by the bigger kids, we got good at hide and seek by going places others were afraid to, we learned negotiation, intimidation, confidence, trust, betrayal, agility, attention to detail, and problem-solving. But the best thing we learned was to rely on ourselves for answers and for decision-making.

So I had the critical thinking long before I entered uni. They taught me some neat stuff about journalism though — that’s what my bachelor’s degree is in — but I was already well-armed in the writing department when I arrived. But they didn’t teach me anything I couldn’t have easily learned from books, such as AP style, writing for print versus writing for online, how to write a feature versus how to write the news, and so on. I didn’t focus on academics, but on the experience. I took fun electives like volleyball, yoga, and African dance and I learned how the system worked and how to get the most from it. I finished my degree in 3 years.

So I didn’t gain either of the two things university was supposed to give me [entirely] at university, but I did gain a ton of experience, a few amazing friends, and one other thing.

So after I said no my professor asked me what I did gain from college.

Well, I learned a lot about modern society and the people that shape it. The loudest voices. In college I learned about the dominant ideologies in society and how to blend in with, manipulate, and fight them.

University of Wisconsin isn’t a liberal arts college, but it is a college with prevailing liberal thought (like most public schools). I am not liberal, nor am I conservative, but I quickly learned that concealing my stripes and hiding my teeth were the best strategy for a smooth experience and good grades, not to mention being comfortable.

Comfortable, ew, we’ll come back to that.

So I learned the acceptable variation in a politically correct “socially conscious” society. I learned just how far it was okay to be myself.

During the first class of the week, one of my favorite instructors would ask us about our activities over the weekends and over breaks and she decided to start skipping me because my answers usually ruffled the class’s (yes, that’s correct usage of the apostrophe because “class” is a singular noun) feathers and sparked discussions she found uncomfortable.

“I went hunting for boar in Houston with one of my boys.”

Their eyes widened and they’d start telling me how inhumane hunting is, asked why I would hunt for boar, if I thought that was okay, and if it made me sick. And this was in Wisconsin. A state with one of the largest hunting populations. That’s maybe a good example of how hotbeds of “thought”, though a small sample of the total population, and usually not the prevailing, silent, social-media-illiterate majority, grow to be the loudest elements in society. Most people at university looked down on hunting as a brutal, arcane, and inhumane pastime.

Really quick note, I find it funny that inhumane is used to describe the behavior closest to base human nature.

“I learned how to reload my AK one-handed.”

The eyes widened again. A gun? Why do you have that? Why would need to do that with one hand?

“I climbed down into Deep Tunnel.” It’s a huge water runoff tunnel system beneath Milwaukee’s sewers to keep streets from flooding during storms or when all the snow melts. In the winter it’s an icy (and spectacularly dangerous) spelunking adventure. Think of a tunnel 50-100 feet wide going straight down into the black abyss with ice all around the edge. Now think of a maze of those, horizontal and vertical.

The eye thing and then questions. Why would you do that? Isn’t that dangerous? There’s nothing down there.

They would laugh sometimes in disbelief and look at me like ol’ kooky Garcia, so extreme, what a guy and just laugh it off, like I was joking with them or something. Like I was a rare creature in modern society. Eccentric or something. The only way they could digest my actual difference (instead of the fake limited variation they so expertly practiced) was to believe it was a joke, not real. As if I was some rare bug that would soon be extinct.

They really didn’t like that I did stuff that they didn’t do. Enough to bring it up a couple times. I didn’t get runk with my friends, share political memes, go to student rallies, hang out at the bars, go to Miami for spring break, or any other regular college kid stuff. Didn’t sit well. People couldn’t have conversations with me because they knew I did other stuff and they didn’t know how to talk about the unfamiliar or dangerous. So our chatter was usually bland or limited to chatter about school, relationships, and weird spiritual discussions or whatever.

Being in that environment taught me the range of behavior and thought that was normal and okay to these overly-sensitive kids — to the popular ideology in the States. Both the liberals and conservatives. My own girlfriend at the time, a hard-line conservative, couldn’t understand why I’d be into any of that stuff or any of my other weird hobbies. It taught me how far I could be myself and be accepted and safe in this modern, amazing, conscious society. Fuck that.

All that shit does is make for some careful, scared, sensitive, manic people. No wonder kids these days have 9 prescriptions and 14 different psychoses and disorders. Imagine being told to be yourself, but then constantly being bombarded by messages from all directions (culture and the things that make it up: society, TV, internet, games, movies, books, all imaging everywhere) that tells you to be like this, act like this, think like this. There are rules to being yourself, it has to fit within lines. Oh yeah though, you don’t have to imagine, because it’s reality! It reminds me of the movie They Live (watch it).

Ideology is interesting. Tell me what the media says about us and what we value? (DM me so I don’t rant about it here.)

Another quick note, ew, notice how I was using “they” as the pronoun in the beginning when describing my professor. He’s a dude, by the way. That’s a holdover from the environment in which I was formally trained to write. It feels like I’m being naughty if I use the pronouns I actually use for people (he and she) in my writing. And I’m 3 years out of college. I have to consciously remember that this writing is my writing and I can say what I want. Remember to be yourself.

Back to it. Uh, here’s some stuff to think about:

Another person’s wrongdoing doesn’t make your wrongdoing any less wrong.

There’s only two genders.

9/11 was an inside job.

Black people are responsible for a lot of their own cultural problems.

Every male should be sterilized until they prove they’re smart and capable enough to have kids and have a viable, and equally smart and capable, partner.

Slavery is okay. If you have the power to subjugate another human or humans, more power to you. We’re already corporate slaves (almost literal) and free-range taxpayers.

Feminism is stupid. So is every other “ism”.

A lot of white people care about stuff that doesn’t matter which is a by-product of a position of privilege.

Oooo, radical. It’s not bad to think things like that or to contemplate them at length. And it’s not bad to discuss those things with other people. It’s bad to act on bad information and it’s bad to do things that have a wrongness about them.

So that leads me to where all this is going. You can have your own thoughts. You can make your own decisions. If you don’t like something, don’t do it. Tell other people why you don’t like it. There’s no guarantee anyone will listen or care, but that’s not what matters. What matters is that you be you and not another mindless drone.

My favorite thing to ask people is what they’re passionate about. Some people say my friends or helping people, but those are cop-out, cheap-ass answers. What are you passionate about? (DM me.)

Oh yeah, the point. I get carried away talking on stuff like this. My writing is much more organized. And this is a mess. Imagine how intensely I feel about this.

I see a big problem. Critical thinking is an endangered thing. It is quickly leaving our world. Not that it’s tied to any particular generation. The baby boomers sucked ass at critical thinking. Building buildings into the sky, creating systems to enslave their children, making women afraid, making men afraid, glorifying the wrong archetypes in society, wasting money, destroying the planet…

Critical thinking is this: objective analysis. It means asking why? And then asking again and again, why?

Asking why and seeking answers doesn’t mean you have to take a side or make a decision, but it does mean that you will know enough to take a side, or multiple, depending on the situation.

Simple exercise. I grew up in an conservative small town in southeastern Wisconsin. Not far from the liberal big city, Milwaukee. Ninety-five percent of everyone I grew up with was white and would say things like abortion is bad.

But I never took anything for granted, I learned that early as a kid. If I thought a branch was stable, without checking its connection to the tree, it would give way and drop me to the ground painfully, as if it knew that I hadn’t checked. Similarly, putting my stake in an ideology or train of thought, depending on it as fact and certainty, would fail me the majority of the time. Unless it was an actual fact, like gravitational constant on Earth (which actually can change, depending on where you are).

So yeah, killing a kid is bad. Or has a wrongness about it. But when is my jizz and your egg a kid? And what about the situation? It’s irresponsible to just go jizzing around inside everyone and wondering how the fuck she got pregnant when you did the one thing it takes to do that. And it’s partially her fault. But do you get to end a life over that? Is it a life? We know it grows up to be one. Where’s the line? It gets complex, yeah?

But I can see both sides. I know that if I — well, theoretically, since I have a vasectomy and can’t get anyone pregnant *hair toss emoji* — get someone pregnant, I am not ready for a kid. I’m about to start a new career, I don’t have time or money to raise a child or even afford the costs of the hopeless bastard.

This theoretical girl and I are gonna have to talk it over. I’m sure she’ll want to get an abortion because she’s not in a place to be having a kid or supporting it either. So that’s it then, abortion.

But oh my god, we’ve joked about how sexy and gorgeous our kid would be, and it totally would. Black hair and green eyes and luxurious skin, cute little hands and feet, cheeks so fat like a little squirrel. And he’d be so smart.

Oh my god. But no, no, there’s no way we can raise a kid. So we steel ourselves and do what we have to. So I’ll go with her and try to understand and navigate the emotional hurdles, but objectively, we took the best course of action for us, which happens to be the best course of action for each of us, and we killed the kid (or bundle of cells, whatever). It would be a purely selfish decision, but I’m the one who has to live my life and I know I’m not ready for a kid. No one can tell me shit if I ever have to go through that. And you should feel the same for all your decisions. Objectively, the abortion was the right choice for that theoretical pregnancy. But I understand both sides.

A child is a magical thing. Just spend some time with a 4-year-old to see how cool the little idiots are. Full of wonder and emotion at the simplest things. Always interested, always ready to give and receive affection, always down for adventure. Kids are cool, man.

What if the baby has to be aborted or the mother will die? How do you pick? But you have to get both sides. There are more sides that just two though. What if you’re more financially stable and have the kid, but then it’s scrippled or has mental issues? That’s gonna suck, but that’s another consideration you have to make.

I had to come to that conclusion on my own: no conclusion. Sometimes abortion has a rightness about it, sometimes a wrongness. But it, by itself, isn’t objectively bad or good, right or wrong, moral or immoral. That’s why I have an issue with any law regarding it. It isn’t y’all’s choice what a woman can do with her body. Nor is it y’all’s choice what a man can do with his.

Short rant:

I went to get my vasectomy at 19. The Army doctors said no, you’re too young and turned me away three times before I was able to pull an effective “my body, my choice” and “if I were a woman coming for birth control, you’d have given it to me and sent me on my way already”. They scheduled the appointment, but then called and said they had to reschedule. And didn’t reschedule. So I went with a business card from the lawyers available to all soldiers, JAG, and presented the subtle threat and shazaam the doctors scheduled the appointment and shot a laser through my nuts and now I can’t have kids until I get it reversed. That was a choice I made to protect myself from that whole abortion thing because it isn’t right or wrong and I didn’t want to accidentally end up in that situation. Now I can have kids on my own terms.

All things, except for banging kids, rape, and some other stuff, are neither of a rightness or wrongness. To think critically requires no decision. It can’t be made until you’re in the situation, like the abortion thing. You shrug and carry on, with more knowledge and power. But, to make good decisions, and give yourself the best chance at making good decisions for yourself, for your family, for groups, for society, you absolutely must be able to grasp more than just the obvious sides of a choice by thinking critically: objectively analyzing in order to form a judgment.

If you take a minute to think about any big societal issue, you’ll find that it’s really nuanced and your first idea over what should be done can be shot down immediately when you consider humans affected on all sides of a thing. You’ll find that no answer is the best answer for a lot of situations and that people can take care of themselves if not limited by laws, knuckleheads, or political faggotry. A lot of stuff really doesn’t matter and has no bearing on real life for 99% of people who are worked up and wearing t-shirts about it.

I think a desire for comfort, fitting in, is a big part of the fading away of critical thinking. Everyone is willing to let someone else do the hard work in society. It’s a lot easier to live if you let your pastor, your therapist, or some self-help-hippie bullshit book tell you what to do.

Ha! The worst is those guys whose only solace in life is sports and they’re so loyal to their team, know all the stats of every player, all the schedules, and can’t hold a discussion on anything else for fear of having to actually examine themselves or their life.

Irresponsibility goes hand-in-hand with comfort. Like a two-pronged double-barrel shit-scissor to cut your head off, they make humans complacent and lazy and has crippled the critical thinking of the masses.

One last example before I conclude. This one is gonna rile up the other side of the isle. You damn fool conservatives. Republicans. Whatever your stupid label. Here we go.

I love guns. I love the idea of guns. You can poke a hole in something really fast and hard and it makes a bunch of cool noises and smells. Guns are my jam. Just listen to this 240B shooting thicc bursts. That’s my favorite sound. ANYWAY, THAT’S NOT THE POINT.

The NRA is bad for gun owners.

What have they ever done for us? Because I can’t think of one thing. Check this article out. Just Google “nra bad for gun owners” and read on the hundreds of times they’ve worked against our best interests. Google “nra good for gun owners” and you’ll find pages of results telling you why (again) they’re bad for us.

Barack Obama was more pro-gun than Donald Trump is.

Facts, B. Actual facts though. Barry-O made it easier, with an executive order, for gun owners to get NFA stuff. He made it so we don’t have to do finger prints and pictures every time we submit forms as long as a new form is submitted within 24 months of the last. He also removed chief law enforcement officer sign-off, making it easier for people in anti-gun jurisdictions, like me, to get their NFA items. That used to be a huge problem for many NFA owners, a frustrating problem that Obama reduced to a notification, you just have to let the CLEO know (through certified mail) that you are submitting forms for an NFA item in his jurisdiction. Oh, he also expanded the staff of the ATF so our forms will file and process quicker than ever before.

He signed an executive order with the flick of a pen, surely God Emperor Trump could do the same for us? But no. His actions have been opposite of what he said he was gonna do. He dun banned bump stocks. Now, bump stocks are retarded and the reasons for banning them are even more retarded, but he did it. Actively worked against the 2nd Amendment. Any regulation is infringement, my dudes, and if you don’t believe that, you’re a jackass. I believe that background checks aren’t regulation, as much as a civic responsibility, but that’s far from the point.

The point is, this guy, Donald Trump, said he was going to be great for 2A, but his actions have proven otherwise, where Barry-O said he wanted things done responsibly and made it easier for us to get our precious guns.

While we can mostly ignore what politicians say, don’t forget these Trump gems:

The D said that people buying body armor and having large quantities of ammo is a red flag. That’s me and most of my friends. Not to mention all my police buddies, veterans, and sportsmen.

The D said “Take the guns first, go through due process second.” That sounds awfully commie of you, sir.

He talked a big game leading up to the election and so far has actively done the opposite.

These are examples of a bigger problem, you mad bruh? Or maybe you’re starting to see the problem. You’re an idiot, taking for granted the things people and news and media and Insta and facebook and memes and fake news and unverified sources tell you. You’re a little kid again, repeating what mommy and daddy say and they’re so proud of you. You fuckronaut.

These are examples of a bigger problem, I said. That problem is a lack of critical thinking. You rush to political stances because of a label: democrat, republican, liberal, conservative. You voted for a retard and got some retarded gun control.

I voted libertarian because I didn’t want to not vote, the words (and actions) of the candidate were pretty freedom-y, and I didn’t see a better option for better living in America in the other candidates. But, it didn’t work since no one else thought critical and wanted to play the label game again. Reminds me of the Chinese communist party, the only party, though there are many divisions inside, your only option is to vote communist. Same here in the States.

Anyway, this has gone on long enough, I hope all the yummy examples helped.

Critical thinking isn’t dead, but it is in danger. Try to cultivate it in yourself. Ask people why and have discussions, don’t just take sides. Practice taking no side and seek out the core of the matter. I guarantee you’ll be happier, more capable, smarter, more moderate, calmer, and a way better person once you put your ego to sleep, open your mind, and think about things.

#YOLO

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