Critical Thinking: The Other National Deficit


Yesterday, someone messaged a meme to my inbox on Facebook and without even questioning it, I reposted and retweeted!

Shortly thereafter, someone responded with a calling my meme an urban myth. I have been a writer, researcher and journalist in some capacity since I was a young child. So, it is very rare that I don’t research something that is sent to me before I pass it on.

But this time, I allowed my critical thinking muscle to remain asleep and posted without question. There were a few demands that I apologize or retract but I did not because in the world of instant social messaging, these things will happen and it’s not like I’m CBS or CNN. I mean they rarely retract even if their message error reaches millions!

But, for some reason, this little incident got me to thinking about how so many of us in American society have lost the Art of Critical Thinking; especially in these trying and uneasy times, and particularly with our oh, so social lives.

Think about it!  We don’t even log into Facebook anymore, it just stays open!  But every single day, we immediately begin going through our “friends” updated status posts; deleting, responding or ignoring.  We check our Twitter to see what’s been tweeted and if we like it we retweet.  We go to our Linkedin page to get the latest business trends; Pinterest and Instagram to see the new pics and suggested boards to repin, take a look to see what our favorite bloggers have to say and make sure that our email backlog hasn’t grown too much.

We are certainly a Social Networked Nation. But, for the most part, we are socializing, twitting, facing, linking up, listening to and being influence by virtual strangers that we have placed enough trust in to believe what they post.  Never mind that we have never met said “friend” face-to-face” or had as much as a personal phone call.  And I would like to think that this behavior is strange except it’s not anymore.  It has become the “new normal.”

But, I’m not complaining!  I have made fast and true friends via Social Media.  I have cried with, prayed for and celebrated along with dozens and dozens of my “friends.”  I have confided in, railed against and even “blocked” others.  I have made good “friends” and lost them over something I said in a post.  I have made bad “friends” that I have lost immediately.  There are even quite a few people with whom I have remained “social” with since I initiated Social Media back in 1993.

Back then, it was chat rooms on AOL.  That was when the internet was purely dial up and you were charged by the hour for your time in chat rooms as well as by the phone company . I remember running up a $600 phone bill from hanging out chatting and playing online games from six one evening until 6 the next morning. That bill broke that habit once and for all.

My next venture was to a site call Ryze.  It really was the predecessor of Facebook because it was the first site where you could chat and instant message on a board that others could see.  I joined that site back in 2004, prior to George W. Bush’s first election.  It was a rousing time politically and conservatives and liberals did battle.  It was truly a fun time and I met many friends that I have remained connected with even as we transferred our online lives over to Facebook in 2008.  So, having meaningful and long term online relationships are nothing new to me having been involved in Social Media for the last 20 years.  So much for history back to the purpose of this blog post.

Social Media has turned us all into news sources.  In fact, we are becoming a nation of reporters.  Our need to have instantaneous reports has led to a surplus of information; some good and some not so good.

In order to fight against rumors, hearsay and gossip, some have managed to create websites that debunk erroneous transmissions, while still other sites have popped up to debunk the debunkers!

At the end of the day, we no longer have to research because we can Google and Wiki our way to the truth. We don’t have to parse between what is right and what is wrong because others are doing our thinking for us. We need only to decide what it is we want to hear and most likely someone, somewhere on the internet has said it the way we like it.  And we will accept it and pass it on as if it’s the truth.

I would love to believe that only I have made this mistake but unfortunately, we all do it at one time or another!  I have found myself debunking the posts, blogs and updates of many people over the past 20 years as I’m sure you have.

Usually if I see a few friends posting about something, I find interesting, I will click to see what’s up. Frankly, Facebook is now my major source for news and updates, then I will Google for verification.  I’m not big on sharing information that has not passed the smell test. But, occasionally, someone that I “trust” will send me a blurb and without hesitation, I just pass it along.

In 1987, at the 8th Annual International Conference on Critical Thinking and Education Reform, Michael Scriven & Richard Paul defined critical thinking as “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.”

So, in short, there are five essential traits that define a critical thinker:

  1. Critical thinkers break arguments into basic statements and draw logical implications.
  2.  Critical thinkers locate ambiguity and vagueness in arguments and propositions.
  3. Critical thinkers determine if the premises are reasonable and identify information that has been omitted or not collected.
  4. Critical thinkers determine if the premises support the conclusion.
  5. Critical thinkers weigh the evidence and arguments.  Contradictions and lack of evidence decrease the weight of an argument.

So, I have determined that 80% of the time, I am a Critical Thinker.  My goal is to be one all of the time!



The Measure of a Man: A Non-discussion of Race in America

Earlier today, someone expressed disappointment because I described another person on a social network as ‘some white guy.’   I referred to him as ‘some white guy’ because I didn’t appreciate the consistently erroneous posts he was making regarding Black crime in America as well as other comments on various threads.

Apparently, my use of the term made her “lose” a modicum of respect for me. I kind of felt like I was supposed to feel guilty and apologize for using a bad word or something! I responded personally but that wasn’t enough for me. So, I did a status update but somehow I couldn’t respond to her in 150 characters without sounding snide or smug, so I decided to blog it out! 

Her comments, and the recent hullabaloo surrounding Glenn Beck’s MLK Celebration, got me to thinking about race in this country.  Not so much about why we need to start or continue the dialogue but really more about why we haven’t gotten to the stage when the dialogue is no longer necessary?

With the election of our first Black President, not since the days of the ‘Black Codes’ and ‘Jim Crow’ laws have Americans been more polarized by our racial differences. But the good, and the bad, thing is that it is no longer just a matter of Black and White. Today, we navigate the racial highway with Middle Easterners, Hispanics, Asians, and a rainbow of nationalities, colors and creeds. So, why do people still feel the conversation is only between Caucasians and Negros?

Two major historical events have made this a two-man fight for all time. The first event was Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation freeing American slaves. The second happened on summer’s day, in 1968, when one Dr. Reverend Martin Luther King stood on the Mall of Washington and gave, what is undoubtedly one of the most moving and stirring sermons on freedom in history, his “I Have a Dream” speech.

Often White’s, especially conservatives, are proud to point to the fact that it was Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, who freed the slaves. Not to pour water on anyone’s party but the reason for freeing the slaves was to economically hurt the ten rogue states in the south and thwart their efforts by eliminating the free labor that was helping them gain their (successful at one point)  independence from the United States. It didn’t help when Abe made them compensate former slaves for their work.

Black’s hold Dr. King in particular esteem for his work, and the ultimate sacrifice of his life, in an effort to gain equal rights under the law for the nation’s Black population. Never mind the fact that King was  not the first man or woman to lose his life before and during this era but in was in actuality one of many who marched, fought, were jailed and killed.

But, just as White’s don’t own the legacy of  President Abraham Lincoln, Blacks don’t own the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King.  If one truly takes the time to read King’s speeches you would find that, although his mission was to the Black Community, his ministry was to the world.

Dr. King understood that racism and oppression were not uniquely American institutions reserved specifically for Blacks and when he said the now famous words, “”Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” he made sure to include all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics.

Reverend King’s ‘Dream’ was not one in which people ignored color and race for he knew that God created us in a variety of beautiful hues and tones  on purpose.  His ‘Dream’ was one in which the color of one’s skin would not be an indicator for how we decide human capability and destiny; one in which we did not ignore our differences but could find a way to celebrate our commonalities.

Today so many people think that if they claim to be colorblind, this will relieve them from the burden pursuing the real issues that divide us.  Those issues are not apparent on the outside, but reside deep within; where our spirit rises up to meet our humanity. 

But, are they truly colorblind?  Do they tense up when a group of young Blacks enter an elevator or pass them on the street — while patting themselves on the back because they have a few Black friends and neighbors?  One wonders if a group of Asians or young White teens were to approach, would they be just as apprehensive?   Store clerks still raise their eyebrows and look nervously about at Black shoppers, no matter the expense of their garb.  Even Black clerks are more prone to be polite to White, Asian or Middle Eastern shoppers than they are to their brothers and sisters of similar color.

Only today, at Fernbank Science Center in Atlanta, a security guard denied a group of Black daycare students the right to eat at lunch tables inside the facility while allowing a group of White children the privilege of sitting at those same tables and enjoying their lunch. The Executive Director called it a case of “bad” Customer Service and closed the conversation.

Claiming to be “colorblind” is NOT the opposite of being a racist. And being ‘politically correct’ does not mean you are not biased in some way.  Resting easy with another despite outward appearances such as color and being able to openly be yourself within any culture and among any people group without fear of respite — are the real barometers — not some arbitrary pretense over language.

The Tao of Poop: Meth in the White House

vanjonesweb_resized400X266As Independents and moderate Democrats take to the hills faster than a California brush fire, Barack Obama is becoming to the Liberal elite media, what honey is to a bear: Something they love to lap up, but at the end of the day, if you have too much, it actually makes you sick.

If you wonder why they’ve avoided any significant reporting on the brotha’ from another planet, Van Jones, Special Advisor for Green Jobs at the White House Council on Environmental Quality and founder of Green for All, an advocacy group that works to bring green jobs to the underprivileged, and author of The Green Collar Economy (or any of Obama’s other “Czars”), it’s because, frankly, they don’t really know what to say.  I mean, they are truly dumbfounded!  His credentials LOOKED good!

Van “hoof-in-mouth” Jones has openly spewed his contempt for the United States for years and yet not one Liberal spoke up when he was appointed by Obama.  The silence from the Left is deafening following Jones’ latest gaffe.  Not even Pelosi, who opens her mouth more than a frog in a fly factory, has uttered a word in his defense.

Not enough that he supported the killer of police officers.  Not enough that he is crazy enough to openly back the belief that President Bush was responsible for the 9/11 tragedy.  Not enough that he publicly called a significant portion of the United States population “assholes.”  Not enough that he called a living President of the United States a “crack head.”  These acts and statements make him fit to serve as advisor to the man who holds the highest position in our country?  Somebody’s on Meth in the White House!

According to White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, Jones “continues to work in the administration.” Why?  If ANYONE in the Bush Administration had been so openly stupid every media outlet on the planet would have been demanding a resignation.  Jones said: “If I have offended anyone with statements I made in the past, I apologize.”  Okaaay…

Day after day the leftist media outlets are seeing that Obama is truly a deceitful, America-hating supporter of not just one racist (Reverend Wright); not just one Communist (William Ayers); but has managed to subjugate the Constitution and illegally surround himself with a cadre of presidential “appointees” who make Stalin look like the Olson twins in comparison.   

From his stance on creating a “culture of death” to his gangsta’ takeover of healthcare, the Liberal media is finally discovering that the “man of change” they paraded to the American public and stuffed down our throats, is actually a horror they helped to unleash. And for that they have no excuse.  How do you back pedal from a monumental mistake like this? 

You don’t!  You ignore it and pretend that it isn’t happening.  You find the best turd in this pile of s**t and act like it’s the best thing since the cable television.  You parade, before an ever enlightened public, every pitiable person with a sob story to tell in this burning heap to try and make it look like “your guy” is actually doing something good.  At least that’s what you do if you have NO scruples and NO morals yourself.  Welcome to mainstream media!

When supposed “legitimate and unbiased” observers like Eva Paterson, president and founder of the Equal Justice Society, a group known to support liberal views, reports in the Huffington Post (a decidedly liberal blog) that Jones has apologized; changed his radical ways and is the subject of unwarranted conservative attacks, I only need look to his most recent video and read HIS own words.

It is little wonder that people no longer wish to pay to read mainstream media tripe and newspapers are fading faster than Madonna’s looks.  If mainstream television news continues on its present path, it will likely see a similar demise. Katie who?

The very thing the Obama Administration purports to cure (partisan politics, racism, cultural division), it actually supports; using the bully pulpit, subversion and oppression in an attempt to silence the opposition. 

And the Liberal media is either too afraid or too stupid to speak out against it or even report on it.  So, what makes this Administration so special?  Nothing at all — except the president is a Black man!  And to speak out against him makes you a racist!

History is rife with tin-can dictators (and their media supporters) who believe that 51% is enough to make the rest of us into mindless slaves incapable of rising up.  But they’ve been wrong before and they are wrong today.  Just watch the tumbling polls and be prepared for 2010 and a one-term president named Barack Hussein Obama who will depart the White House in 2012!