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Negative Thinking is NOT Critical Thinking


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Negative Thinking is NOT Critical Thinking

 

Negative thinking often displays itself in ad hominem attacks. Often a forum has one or more individuals who have grown to think of themselves as the local ‘shaman’; these individuals try all kinds of ways to reject others who they fear will take away some of their ‘power’, so they use all forms of negative attacks to reject that new person.

 

I have seen instances of individuals who are very anti-intellectual devise means for rejecting any form of ideas that appear to be intellectual.

 

Ideologues are always fighting against other ideologues and they use every means to reject non-conforming ideas. I see that especially in anti-theism ideologues. I had one instance of an individual rejecting the works of Becker because Becker uses the word "faith", such a word was like the appearance of a snake under the bed.

 

We are indoctrinated in our ideologies and we are constantly fighting either for ours or against another, this leads to various techniques to throw off any invading new ideas. Also I am convinced that our schools and colleges have made people unconsciously fearful of any serious concepts that have not been introduced to them by a teacher. Self-learning is unconsciously an alien concept.

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Negative Thinking is NOT Critical Thinking

Certainly true. However, some critical thinking is necessarily negative. If critical thinking is being to applied to an idea that is poorly formulated then the resultant analysis will be largely (and centrally) negative. Although it may appear at first to be a contradiction, in these circumstances the negative will be positive, since it is negation of an error, falsehood, or weakness.
Negative thinking often displays itself in ad hominem attacks.
Again, certainly true, but those ad hominem attacks, in some cases, represent a last ditch effort on the part of the poster to generate a relevant, attentive, response. Now the attack is generally doomed to failure (though I have seen exceptions), but I think it is understandable. The instances I am thinking of are different from the chronic attacker who seeks out something to disagree with, but are rather those where the poster feels all reasonable, logical attempts to dicuss, reach agreement, or even agree to disagree, have failed.
Often a forum has one or more individuals who have grown to think of themselves as the local ‘shaman’; these individuals try all kinds of ways to reject others who they fear will take away some of their ‘power’, so they use all forms of negative attacks to reject that new person.
My critical thinking tells me you might feel you have been the subject of such attacks. Am I correct?
Ideologues are always fighting against other ideologues and they use every means to reject non-conforming ideas. I see that especially in anti-theism ideologues.
I find Dawkins to be an example of a scientist who on some matters is even more dogmatic than many of the religious believers he condemns. Is that the sort of thing you are talking about?
Also I am convinced that our schools and colleges have made people unconsciously fearful of any serious concepts that have not been introduced to them by a teacher.

We have had this discussion before. Based upon my experience within the educational system of the UK, as a pupil, as a parent of schoolchildren, as a school governer, and most recently as the father of a schoolteacher, this is not the case. I am prepared to accept that it may be the case in some schools in some countries. It would be nice if you could accept that your view of how schools function is not universally applicable.
Self-learning is unconsciously an alien concept.
Self learning is an inherent characteristic of humans, primates, and many other higher animals. A little reading of research literature and a healthy does of critical thinking should lead you to the same conclusion.
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Eclogite

 

I have posted on many different forums in the last 5 years and I run into constant behavior patterns that I tend to categorize. My remarks about the existence of a “shaman” like attitude by some forum members is a result of many experiences that I have tried to analyze and the only answer that seems suitable is this guess.

 

There are often hecklers that behave in standard form. These that I classify as shamans might be just hecklers. Hecklers are a constant irritant that can be handled best only by ignoring them. I live in the mountains and often go hiking in the summer and have learned to ignore the gnats in much the same way.

 

I am not that very familiar with Dawkins’ attitudes but I do often run into anti-theists who really only hurt their cause because they behave in as irrational a manner as those religious ideologues they berate.

 

Yes, you are correct that my negative views on educational systems in America are not shared by many. But this is the cross that a Critical Thinker must learn to bear.

 

Many people think that self-learning skills are something that they were born with or can pick up via social osmosis but I accept such views as another cross that I must bear.

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What it is to me is a sense of discovery driven by curiosity. I was having dream this morning that I had a large and beautiful alligator in the swimming pool as a pet. My thought was why do I have this alligator as a pet when it could kill me. So I decided to get rid of it and shuddered at my stupidity in trusting it as a companion in the first place. It has no interest in developing a relationship with me, its nature is merely to eat and to protect its self.

When I began wake up I started to imagine the evolution of curiosity on in life, I could see it develop in mammals as a survival mechanism, and how we keep pets that are natural explores. Then as I woke I could then see it in degrees in my fellow man. I have always been astounded by the lack of intellectual curiosity in people that have out dated ideals that are based only in fear of the unknown.

 

I am happy to report that I do understand that the symbolic meaning of the “alligator in my swimming pool.” As I sipped my morning coffee I realized the real alligator in the swimming pool has gone back to Alaska. I feel much safer now.

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I am happy to report that I do understand that the symbolic meaning of the “alligator in my swimming pool.” As I sipped my morning coffee I realized the real alligator in the swimming pool has gone back to Alaska. I feel much safer now.

 

 

Well Sarah is perhaps the best dressed alligator in Alaska. I suspect she and Ted are the only alligators in Alaska.

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Yes, you are correct that my negative views on educational systems in America are not shared by many. But this is the cross that a Critical Thinker must learn to bear.

Many people think that self-learning skills are something that they were born with or can pick up via social osmosis but I accept such views as another cross that I must bear.

These crosses; as an observer there is a hint of self indulgence about them. Perhaps I am mistaken. (It happened once before in 1977.) You don't seem to be entertaining the possibility that you may be mistaken. If other critical thinkers can reach opinions that are the opposite of yours, does it automatically follow that they are wrong and you are right. Do you consider it possible that your view is mistaken? You state your position very clearly and imply (not state, so it may be my misinterpretation) that your view is the correct one because you have arrived at it by critical thinking and self learning, while those who hold opposing views are following indoctrinated thought processes and opinions. This is probably an artifact of your posting style rather than an actual intent. But I would appreciate it if you could clarify your position on this issue?
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These crosses; as an observer there is a hint of self indulgence about them. Perhaps I am mistaken. (It happened once before in 1977.) You don't seem to be entertaining the possibility that you may be mistaken. If other critical thinkers can reach opinions that are the opposite of yours, does it automatically follow that they are wrong and you are right. Do you consider it possible that your view is mistaken? You state your position very clearly and imply (not state, so it may be my misinterpretation) that your view is the correct one because you have arrived at it by critical thinking and self learning, while those who hold opposing views are following indoctrinated thought processes and opinions. This is probably an artifact of your posting style rather than an actual intent. But I would appreciate it if you could clarify your position on this issue?

 

 

I heed the words filling the books of many Critical Thinkers. In fact, many ideas that I hold dear are the words of these great thinkers.

 

It is my opinion that learning is best done at the knee of the best thinkers that history has to offer us.

 

We can see only what we are prepared to see and by standing on the shoulders of these giants one can see further and faster than any other means I have heard of. The goal of every word I post is to convince readers to go to the books of these giants and thus to become self-actualizing self-learners.

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Thank you for your detailed answer, but it does not address the question I asked. May I repeat it? I shall try to be cleare.r. Do you agree that you may well be mistaken that a) the US educational system is as deficient as you think it is; and B) that the ability to self learn is not inherent in people?

 

a)It is possible b)Yes, people can learn but anything sophisticated must be worked for.

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a) the US educational system is as deficient as you think it is; and B) that the ability to self learn is not inherent in people?

The educational system here is still very much based on the old system of memorize and rehash. A flawed system where the student simply spits out results based almost exclusively on memorizing and repeating what he/she has been fed which is based largely on the instructors creed of "because that's how it is in the textbook and answer key", rather than the instructor feeding into the equation the mechanics and reasons (how and why) of the problem...IMHO a highly deficient manor of developing "freethinking" individuals capable of properly rationalizing a problem outside of the parameters learned via this technique.

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The following are articles I found that relate to the problem of education in America.

 

 

Clueless in America

E-Mail

 

By BOB HERBERT NYTimes

Published: April 22, 2008

 

 

An American kid drops out of high school every 26 seconds. That’s more than a million every year, a sign of big trouble for these largely clueless youngsters in an era in which a college education is crucial to maintaining a middle-class quality of life — and for the country as a whole in a world that is becoming more hotly competitive every day.

 

Ignorance in the United States is not just bliss, it’s widespread. A recent survey of teenagers by the education advocacy group Common Core found that a quarter could not identify Adolf Hitler, a third did not know that the Bill of Rights guaranteed freedom of speech and religion, and fewer than half knew that the Civil War took place between 1850 and 1900.

 

“We have one of the highest dropout rates in the industrialized world,” said Allan Golston, the president of U.S. programs for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In a discussion over lunch recently he described the situation as “actually pretty scary, alarming.”

 

Roughly a third of all American high school students drop out. Another third graduate but are not prepared for the next stage of life — either productive work or some form of post-secondary education.

 

When two-thirds of all teenagers old enough to graduate from high school are incapable of mastering college-level work, the nation is doing something awfully wrong.

 

Mr. Golston noted that the performance of American students, when compared with their peers in other countries, tends to grow increasingly dismal as they move through the higher grades:

 

“In math and science, for example, our fourth graders are among the top students globally. By roughly eighth grade, they’re in the middle of the pack. And by the 12th grade, U.S. students are scoring generally near the bottom of all industrialized countries.”

 

Many students get a first-rate education in the public schools, but they represent too small a fraction of the whole.

 

Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, offered a brutal critique of the nation’s high schools a few years ago, describing them as “obsolete” and saying, “When I compare our high schools with what I see when I’m traveling abroad, I am terrified for our work force of tomorrow.”

 

Said Mr. Gates: “By obsolete, I don’t just mean that they are broken, flawed or underfunded, though a case could be made for every one of those points. By obsolete, I mean our high schools — even when they’re working as designed — cannot teach all our students what they need to know today.”

 

The Educational Testing Service, in a report titled “America’s Perfect Storm,” cited three powerful forces that are affecting the quality of life for millions of Americans and already shaping the nation’s future. They are:

 

• The wide disparity in the literacy and math skills of both the school-age and adult populations. These skills, which play such a tremendous role in the lives of individuals and families, vary widely across racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups.

 

• The “seismic changes” in the U.S. economy that have resulted from globalization, technological advances, shifts in the relationship of labor and capital, and other developments.

 

• Sweeping demographic changes. By 2030, the U.S. population is expected to reach 360 million. That population will be older and substantially more diverse, with immigration having a big impact on both the population as a whole and the work force.

 

These and so many other issues of crucial national importance require an educated populace if they are to be dealt with effectively. At the moment we are not even coming close to equipping the population with the intellectual tools that are needed.

 

While we’re effectively standing in place, other nations are catching up and passing us when it comes to educational achievement. You have to be pretty dopey not to see the implications of that.

 

But, then, some of us are pretty dopey. In the Common Core survey, nearly 20 percent of respondents did not know who the U.S. fought in World War II. Eleven percent thought that Dwight Eisenhower was the president forced from office by the Watergate scandal. Another 11 percent thought it was Harry Truman.

 

We’ve got work to do.

 

An article “Writing off Reading” appeared in the Washington Post Sunday August 20. This article was written by a college professor to speak to the problem of students entering college without sufficient vocabulary comprehension. The problem is described as a lack of reading experience in K-12.

 

“How does one explain the inability of college students to read or write at even a high school level? One explanation, which owes as much to the culture as to the schools, is that kids don't read for pleasure. And because they don't read, they are less able to navigate the language. If words are the coin of their thought, they're working with little more than pocket change.”

 

“When students with A averages can't write simple English, it shouldn't be surprising that people ask what a high school diploma is really worth. In California this year, hundreds of high school students, many with good grades, faced the prospect of not graduating because they could not pass a state-mandated exit exam. Although a judge overturned the effort, legislators (not always so literate themselves) in other states have also called for exit exams. It's hardly unreasonable to ask that students demonstrate a minimum competency in basic subjects, especially English.”

 

This is a serious problem in the United States and I assume it may also be a serious problem in all nations.

 

Quotes from

 

Writing Off Reading

 

 

 

 

 

New York, N.Y. - Literary reading is in dramatic decline with fewer than half of American adults now reading literature, according to a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) survey released today. Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America reports drops in all groups studied, with the steepest rate of decline - 28 percent - occurring in the youngest age groups.

 

The study also documents an overall decline of 10 percentage points in literary readers from 1982 to 2002, representing a loss of 20 million potential readers. The rate of decline is increasing and, according to the survey, has nearly tripled in the last decade. The findings were announced today by NEA Chairman Dana Gioia during a news conference at the New York Public Library.

 

 

 

 

"This report documents a national crisis," Gioia said. "Reading develops a capacity for focused attention and imaginative growth that enriches both private and public life. The decline in reading among every segment of the adult population reflects a general collapse in advanced literacy. To lose this human capacity - and all the diverse benefits it fosters - impoverishes both cultural and civic life."

 

While all demographic groups showed declines in literary reading between 1982 and 2002, the survey shows some are dropping more rapidly than others. The overall rate of decline has accelerated from 5 to 14 percent since 1992.

 

Women read more literature than men do, but the survey indicates literary reading by both genders is declining. Only slightly more than one-third of adult males now read literature. Reading among women is also declining significantly, but at a slower rate.

 

Literary reading declined among whites, African Americans and Hispanics. Among ethnic and racial groups surveyed, literary reading decreased most strongly among Hispanic Americans, dropping by 10 percentage points.

 

By age, the three youngest groups saw the steepest drops, but literary reading declined among all age groups. The rate of decline for the youngest adults, those aged 18 to 24, was 55 percent greater than that of the total adult population.

 

The rate of decline in literary reading is calculated by dividing the percentage point drop by the original percentage of literary readers.

 

Reading also affects lifestyle, the study shows. Literary readers are much more likely to be involved in cultural, sports and volunteer activities than are non-readers. For example, literary readers are nearly three times as likely to attend a performing arts event, almost four times as likely to visit an art museum, more than two-and-a-half times as likely to do volunteer or charity work, and over one-and-a-half times as likely to attend or participate in sports activities. People who read more books tend to have the highest level of participation in other activities.

 

The most important factor in literacy reading rates is education, the report shows. Only 14 percent of adults with a grade school education read literature in 2002. By contrast, more than five times as many respondents with a graduate school education - 74 percent - read literary works.

 

Family income also affects the literary reading rate, though not as strongly as education. About one-third of the lowest income group - those with a family income under $10,000 - read literature during the survey year, compared with 61 percent of the highest income group - those with family income of $75,000 or more.

 

According to the survey, the most popular types of literature are novels or short stories, which were read by 45 percent or 93 million adults in the previous year. Poetry was read by 12 percent or 25 million people, while just 4 percent or seven million people reported having read a play.

 

Contrary to the overall decline in literary reading, the number of people doing creative writing increased by 30 percent, from 11 million in 1982 to more than 14 million in 2002. However, the number of people who reported having taken a creative writing class or lesson decreased by 2.2 million during the same time period.

 

The survey also studied the correlation between literary reading and other activities. For instance, literature readers watched an average of 2.7 hours of television each day, while people who do not read literary works watched an average of 3.1 hours daily. Adults who did not watch TV in a typical day are 48 percent more likely to be frequent readers - consuming from 12 to 49 books each year - than are those who watched one to three hours daily.

 

"America can no longer take active and engaged literacy for granted," according to Gioia. "As more Americans lose this capability, our nation becomes less informed, active, and independent minded. These are not qualities that a free, innovative, or productive society can afford to lose.

 

"No single factor caused this problem. No single solution can solve it. But it cannot be ignored and must be addressed," Gioia said.

 

Reading at Risk presents the results from the literature segment of the Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, conducted by the Census Bureau in 2002 at the NEA' s request. The survey asked more than 17,000 adults if - during the previous 12 months - they had read any novels, short stories, poetry or plays in their leisure time, that were not required for work or school. The report extrapolates and interprets data on literary reading and compares them with results from similar surveys carried out in 1982 and 1992.

 

Reading At Risk can be downloaded as a PDF document. Hard copies can also be requested free of charge through the Arts Endowment's web site.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few years ago, I began keeping a list of everyday words that may as well have been potholes in exchanges with college students. It began with a fellow who was two months away from graduating from a well-respected Midwestern university.

 

"And what was the impetus for that?" I asked as he finished a presentation.

At the word "impetus" his head snapped sideways, as if by reflex. "The what?" he asked.

"The impetus. What gave rise to it? What prompted it?"

I wouldn't have guessed that impetus was a 25-cent word. But I also wouldn't have guessed that "ramshackle" and "lucid" were exactly recondite, either. I've had to explain both. You can be dead certain that today's college students carry a weekly planner. But they may or may not own a dictionary, and if they do own one, it doesn't get much use. ("Why do you need a dictionary when you can just go online?" more than one student has asked me.)

You may be surprised -- and dismayed -- by some of the words on my list.

"Advocate," for example. Neither the verb nor the noun was immediately clear to students who had graduated from high school with GPAs above 3.5. A few others:

"Derelict," as in neglectful.

And my favorite: "Novel," as in new and as a literary form. College students nowadays call any book, fact or fiction, a novel. I have no idea why this is, but I first became acquainted with the peculiarity when a senior at one of the country's better state universities wrote a paper in which she referred to "The Prince" as "Machiavelli's novel."

 

As freshmen start showing up for classes this month, colleges will have a new influx of high school graduates with gilded GPAs, and it won't be long before one professor whispers to another: Did no one teach these kids basic English? The unhappy truth is that many students are hard-pressed to string together coherent sentences, to tell a pronoun from a preposition, even to distinguish between "then" and "than." Yet they got A's.

 

How does one explain the inability of college students to read or write at even a high school level? One explanation, which owes as much to the culture as to the schools, is that kids don't read for pleasure. And because they don't read, they are less able to navigate the language. If words are the coin of their thought, they're working with little more than pocket change.

Say this -- but no more -- for the Bush administration's No Child Left Behind Act: It at least recognizes the problem. What we're graduating from our high schools isn't college material. Sometimes it isn't even good high school material.

How does one explain the inability of college students to read or write at even a high school level? One explanation, which owes as much to the culture as to the schools, is that kids don't read for pleasure. And because they don't read, they are less able to navigate the language. If words are the coin of their thought, they're working with little more than pocket change.

Say this -- but no more -- for the Bush administration's No Child Left Behind Act: It at least recognizes the problem. What we're graduating from our high schools isn't college material. Sometimes it isn't even good high school material.

When students with A averages can't write simple English, it shouldn't be surprising that people ask what a high school diploma is really worth. In California this year, hundreds of high school students, many with good grades, faced the prospect of not graduating because they could not pass a state-mandated exit exam. Although a judge overturned the effort, legislators (not always so literate themselves) in other states have also called for exit exams. It's hardly unreasonable to ask that students demonstrate a minimum competency in basic subjects, especially English.

Exit exams have become almost a necessity because the GPA is not to be trusted. In my experience, a high SAT score is far more reliable than a high GPA -- more indicative of quickness and acuity, and more reflective of familiarity with language and ideas. College admissions specialists are of a different view and are apt to label the student with high SAT scores but mediocre grades unmotivated, even lazy.

I'll take that student any day. I've known such students. They may have been bored in high school but they read widely and without prodding from a parent. And they could have nominated a few favorite writers besides Dan Brown -- even if they thoroughly enjoyed "The DaVinci Code."

I suspect they would have understood the point I tried unsuccessfully to make once when I quoted Joseph Pulitzer to my students. It is journalism's job, he said, to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Too obvious, you think? I might have thought so myself -- if the words "afflicted" and "afflict" hadn't stumped the whole class.

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How does one explain the inability of college students to read or write at even a high school level? One explanation, which owes as much to the culture as to the schools, is that kids don't read for pleasure. And because they don't read, they are less able to navigate the language. If words are the coin of their thought, they're working with little more than pocket change.

Say this -- but no more -- for the Bush administration's No Child Left Behind Act: It at least recognizes the problem. What we're graduating from our high schools isn't college material. Sometimes it isn't even good high school material.

How does one explain the inability of college students to read or write at even a high school level? One explanation, which owes as much to the culture as to the schools, is that kids don't read for pleasure. And because they don't read, they are less able to navigate the language. If words are the coin of their thought, they're working with little more than pocket change.

Say this -- but no more -- for the Bush administration's No Child Left Behind Act: It at least recognizes the problem. What we're graduating from our high schools isn't college material. Sometimes it isn't even good high school material.

I guess that's one way to see if we've read the post.B)
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The educational system here is still very much based on the old system of memorize and rehash.
If by “here” we’re referring to the entire United States nation, a particular state or county, or even a single school, then this statements is, I think, an overgeneralization, because teaching approaches and curriculum vary significantly from state to state, county to county, and even between instructors.

 

Certainly, many classes in all subjects in schools throughout the US and other nations are poorly taught. I can say with even greater certainty, from direct experience as both a student and a teacher – that some appear very well taught.

 

Beyond promoting mastery of well-defined subject matter, I think there’s some danger in the very concept that an educational system can be good or bad – that is, be more that adequate – because it places undue emphasis on the importance of schools, rather than of individual students. Among some educators, there’s a consensus that good students, as long as they are not overtly prohibited from doing so, will be good students in spite of the faults of their schools, while no school, not matter how good, can make poor students into good ones.

...IMHO a highly deficient manor of developing "freethinking" individuals capable of properly rationalizing a problem outside of the parameters learned via this technique.
Also based on personal experience, I’m far from convinced that one can, in a school setting, do much to promote or discourage free and critical thinking, beyond providing sufficient introduction that students are aware that, at least as concept, these attitudes and practices exist. The best way I know to do this are thought introductions to practical techniques, such as Sagan’s “baloney detection kit”, and through exposure to free-thinking role models, both biographical and fictional – approaches that can be as well or better pursued outside of an academic setting as within.

 

As a point of diction, the word ”rationalize” does not ordinarily refer to a the process of rational analysis and problem solving to which I think DD is referring. Rather, other than technically meanings (in math, etc.), it refers to a process almost the opposite of this, in which one attempts to make an irrationally arrived at conclusion appear to have been arrived at rationally.

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As a point of diction, the word ”rationalize” does not ordinarily refer to a the process of rational analysis and problem solving to which I think DD is referring. Rather, other than technically meanings (in math, etc.), it refers to a process almost the opposite of this, in which one attempts to make an irrationally arrived at conclusion appear to have been arrived at rationally.
Yeah, you're dead on. A poor choice of wording, but at least you understood the point I was trying to get across.

 

"Freethinking" was a rather poor choice as well (too much extreme sports viewing I think). Sadly I can't think of a better word to use to concisely express the point which is: to take in all of the variables of a problem and apply a logical answer based a firm understanding of each and the repercussions (if any) for an error in judgment...particularly in the "gray"areas of civilized life...(more to follow)

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