Whatever happened to critical thinking?

| October 27, 2020 7:00 AM

To the editor:

What is most alarming about these times? We each have our answer. For me it has to be the utter lack of critical thinking displayed by our citizenry and the dumbing down of the mass of Americans. I was reminded of this as I read the current batch of “Letters to the Editor.”

Critical thinking is a skill. The ability to sniff out a canard and expose it for what it is with a few deft qestions is something that should be the intellectual wheelhouse of a person who holds a certificate of completion from the third grade. It doesn't require a gift of high intelligence. It requires that one ask simple questions.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating for one political position over another. I'm merely pointing out how gullible people are. If, for example, you hear someone hissing "that's socialism," ask yourself: Just what is socialism? How many people who talk about the evils of socialism can actually define socialism in a way socialist would agree with?

Medieval philosophers would first articulate their opponent's position in a way that could not be bettered. Then they set out to destroy it with a counter argument.

Can you imagine such a standard of thinking today?

Without the ability to ask simple questions people become easy prey for whatever charismatic, silver-tongued charlatan uses all the hot words. “Drink the Kool-Aid” or “Inject the bleach” turn into marching orders.

We seem to be moving into a kind of herd mentality where passive obedience rules. Question what you hear. Speak truth to power.

Tom Taaffe