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 Copyright © May 2003

The More Intelligent Road!

Some Insights into the Way We Think..., or Don't.

~written from the common sense perspective of The Winds of the Soul~

by Dr. Gregory C.D. Young, Ph.D.(Oxon.)

 
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It's never as simple as it looks.  On the surface, most involved in the discussion chose to support the recent action in Iraq, but there were a few who had misgivings about the matter. I recently had some dinner with a group of people who began discussing the recent events of war and politics.  It's always interesting to see how others come to understand the events of the day, what histories they bring with them and the agendas they knowingly or unknowingly serve.  It's never as simple as it looks.  On the surface, most involved in the discussion chose to support the recent action in Iraq, but there were a few who had misgivings about the matter. Eventually the conversation turned to discussing the differences between Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton, and things then began to get really interesting...as the misgivings of the few began to surface and become even more clearly defined, or undefined as the case may be. 

Copyright © 2002 Dr. Gregory C.D. Young, Ph.D.(Oxon.).  All Rights Reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part, in any form or by any means, including but not limited to all forms of media print, audio, electronic and video reproduction,  without the prior express and specific written content of the author, except in cases of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. 

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In other words, completely ignored was the wherewithal to understand that not all facts were to be treated equally.  Those participating did not seem to understand that some "findings" were more important than others, and others simply were not, and needed to be accounted for differently.

Apart from the issues at hand and who was debating what position, what became amply demonstrated was the lack of genuine "thinking" that was in evidence.  Most points were not made..., except in passion.  Rarely was logic entertained or regarded as necessary.   Many apparently were quick to have heard something only to later regurgitate it as their own, not fully understanding, nor wishing to understand, a lot of what comes out of their own mouths.  Most could not follow the course of the conversation without making endless detours, leading them to forget what it was they were trying to say in the first place, or what was already on the table. 

What became immediately apparent was the fact that most could not understand how to judge and weigh issues and matters constructively, refusing to acknowledge that some variables should be weighted and categorized differently than others before sound conclusions could be drawn.  Lacking that awareness, few even bothered to understand how to appropriately "nest" arguments within one another and respect the structure thereafter with regards to conclusions made.  In other words, completely ignored was the wherewithal to understand that not all facts were to be treated equally.  Those participating did not seem to understand that some "findings" were more important than others, and others simply were not, and needed to be accounted for differently.  They treated every point as if it were just as important as every other, blithefully ignorant of any possible interdependencies or prioritization of the facts discussed, without any differentiation as to how it fit in the overall argument . 

What I was witnessing here, very subtly, were the rules of Political Correctness applied to debate---a whitewashing of differences and measures of comparison---like every factor in a mathematical equation was forced to be of equal value in order for everyone to satisfy their personal sense of fairness and comfort---or regarding each ingredient in a recipe the same to the point of absurdity, using the same measure of each thinking that result must be great!  Well, try to bake a cake on that premise and see what results!  This one common childish blunder was more frustrating to witness than any other. 

Yet, just as self-centered children, almost everybody at this dinner seemed to be perfectly comfortable with what they were saying, and obviously paid little if any attention to the fact that even though they were at times given the floor, nobody was really listening to what they were saying, each only preparing to make their next comment of self-interest. As you can imagine, there seemed to be a lot people talking, albeit cordially, but nobody really involved in the conversation apart from what they had been speaking about.  I was stunned, as it immediately reminded me of those TV news program where politicians ignore all of the above as well, and are only interested in delivering their self-serving point of view, rarely every speaking to the issue at hand. 

I know this probably goes on a lot, as I've seen it repeated time and again.  But it really makes one think...  In fact, at a very fundamental level, it points out that most of don't know how to really "think."  Yet we entertain the foible that when any of us says anything, we think its an accurate reflection of having "thought" about something, having considered our point of few deliberately, instead of simply feigning a popular, socially acceptable diatribe, or sunk further to pander some other incomprehensible dribble stemming from emotion alone. 

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Self-centered children seem best suited for giving answers to questions that can lead to howls of laughter, demonstrating the extent of focus and concern, their imaginations, and naiveté.  And yet, these habits are not confined to youngsters alone.  Many adults seem to have grown older perpetuated these inclinations without skipping a beat, and generally create the illusions of having really thought about something when in fact they have not. 

One would imagine that "how to think" should be a priority in this world of ours, but in fact, it's not.  Indeed, when many today open their mouths, "thinking" is generally not the habit we witness.  Most are inconsistent, illogical, contradictory, haphazardly forcing counterfeit similarities and measures upon subject matters, and falsely finding equivalencies to satisfy their own incubated egocentricities and resulting insulated agendas.  And, what's worse is that most of us accept this confusion without objection. 

Today, most people believe that whatever they say will be accepted, as if, anything that comes out of their mouths will make sense to anybody else and will be given immediate credibility regarding its content.  This at times can be the source of a lot of humor.  We've all been in circumstances where we've asked questions from some only to be amazed and befuddled by their confused and contorted answers while believing that they just said something profound. 

Self-centered children seem best suited for giving answers to questions that can lead to howls of laughter, demonstrating the extent of focus and concern, their imaginations, and naiveté.  And yet, these habits are not confined to youngsters alone.  Many adults seem to have grown older perpetuating these inclinations without skipping a beat, and generally create the illusions of having really thought about something when in fact they have not. 

But quite surprising, most of what we see today masquerading as "thinking" is in fact "superstition," where facts are presumably gathered and assembled for purposes of correlation, where causation is wrongly imputed.  Without getting too academic, in fact, any statistician will tell us that correlation alone cannot derive any understanding as to the cause and effect of things, only that two or more things may happen together, like stubbing your toe and a bolt of lightning occurring at the same time--one cannot then be said to have caused the other.  A statistical correlation is often the weakest of statistical instruments in this regard, and should therefore not be used as often as it is, especially in isolation of other measures (eg. A.N.O.V.A. and M.A.N.O.V.A. which assess statistical variances among targeted populations) which are much more sophisticated and accurate in assessing causative factors.  To make any other reference of association, or ascertain cause and effect from correlation alone, is pure hyperbole. 

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And yet, most of us passively accept this as all okay, mostly because we are not taught what it is "to think" anymore!  Indeed, we are likely engaged in the same kinds of superstitious exercises, coming to the same faulty conclusions without knowing any better..., for who is going to teach us any differently? 

In other words, it's superstition at best.  And that's how most of the world generally comes to its understanding and conclusions about things.  For instance, the media is a good example of how they misuse correlation statistics in so-called opinion surveys, even when they are considered to be scientifically astute.  Frankly, I have yet to see one that is.  Most of these called surveys have not completed the necessary analysis of bias nor the appropriate control of all the variables in question even in the formation of their questions to be considered "scientific, least wise in understanding that only a certain type of individual will likely take the time to become involved in any survey, which in itself will skew any pretense of a clear and accurate conclusion.

So, these TV/Newspaper "survey results" we see being offered us every night on the nationally nightly newscasts are hardly clear and definitely not "scientific," and yet its purported to be "accurate" and "reflective" of the statistical population..., which it can't possibly be.  The only conclusions that they really can make are superstitiously derived from variables that have never been amply defined or controlled, coming from data that has been gathered in less than scientific ways from a data pool that is biased to begin with.  Indeed, their statistical measures (eg. often chi-squared) are too simple and wrongly applied, making it no different than voodoo, where people come to inaccurate, yet often compelling, conclusions about life from faulty data sources or prejudiced data pools that serve social stigmas and cultural trends because "things" appear to be related!  Truly, we get what we want, seeing only those things that serve our social bias and agendas, coming to social conclusions that are generally, if not grossly, inaccurate.

And yet, most of us passively accept this as all okay, mostly because we are not taught what it is "to think" anymore!  Indeed, we are likely engaged in the same kinds of superstitious exercises, coming to the same faulty conclusions without knowing any better..., for who is going to teach us any differently?  Nothing is being done in order for us to learn how to prize "good, objective thinking" above its many counterfeits.  Our schools are certainly not helping in this regard, simply asking our kids to blindly regurgitate their lessons by rote instead of understanding them.  Our churches, too, have diluted "faith" to mean something that has to happen without the mind's involvement (a fallacy of great proportion).  And our courts of law now only query as to the degree of past precedence that can be shown, instead of fair and balanced justice determined from the case at hand. 

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Parenthetically, it's most obvious that our Forefathers never intended present day interpretations of segregating our personal faith in God from government (keeping denomination out of it), but clearly wished that there be no mingling of the government of church and denomination and the government of state. Yet, when we become slovenly in how we think, the obvious nature of things seems to become nullified, and the real basis of any argument to the contrary becomes lost.  

"Thinking" has become very unpopular in our country, and yet we oddly celebrate that we are a free country, not knowing that when you take away or diminish the freedom to think and understand objectively on our own, all other freedoms hang in the balance.  Indeed, the freedom of speech really only then becomes assailable after the status of "thinking" has been diminished, as is being witnessed in our land at this time what with the gross misunderstandings that prevail regarding the separation of church and state, and the right to call on the name of God.  Parenthetically, it's most obvious that our Forefathers never intended present day interpretations of segregating our personal faith in God from government (keeping denomination out of it), but clearly wished that there be no mingling of the government of church and denomination and the government of state. Yet, when we become slovenly in how we think, the obvious nature of things seems to become nullified, and the real basis of any argument to the contrary becomes lost.  

From such laziness comes the pretenders of "thinking" such as Political Correctness, which suddenly became viable and respectful as of late instead of something that should have been laughed out of existence.  Indeed, PC is nothing different than any other form of prejudice, such as racism, for it is often very unbalanced, seeks to spread its interpretation about things without measure or understanding, is always unjust and never is based on reality, conveniently remaining incubated and isolated from ever being appropriately challenged.  Gossip, too, a great pretender of "thinking," has become more and more popular in our country, what with tabloid-yellow-journalism now becoming more mainstream and a part of the national journalistic agenda, even finding sway into our justice system.  Disastrously, if you're unlucky enough to be a defendant popularized by the media, it's unlikely that you'll ever receive a fair trial---before the trial has even begun, defendants are already judged by the merits of innuendo, intrigue, and the ratings.  And, let's not fool ourselves, rigid religionisms of all sorts depends upon us not thinking, where "blind faith" becomes the abomination of desolation, and the undoing of all our freedoms.   

And the list goes on and on.  The cultural mandate:  "Don't think, don't understand, or let someone else do it for you."  None of these things is good for our country, leastwise, for any of us individually.  Abandoning the rights we have "to think" is one of the greatest and most silent mistakes a people can make, and puts us in the same place of others who watched their national dialogue become silenced by evil-doers.  Its a prelude to disaster....

So what do we do?  Well, I believe that "thinking" clear-headedly about anything involves a number of things that should be maintained and vigorously defended both within and without ourselves.  The first and probably most important factor is the ability to maintain an intellectually honest perspective in all that we do and say, a perspective that is void of prejudice..., and then being personally being responsible for what is said. In being honest in this way, we should be able to maintain a sense of integrity about the subject matter and not say we know some things when we do not, and more importantly, clearly know when we don't really know anything.  "Thinking" should involve an honest disclosure about what we know and don't know, not a strategy that seeks subterfuge and lying and the saving of social face. 

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Legitimate and appropriate, and truly "smart thinking" must involve self-reflection, introspection and the judgement of the heart, as well.  Now for those of you that know me, you'll know that I'm not talking about emotionalism here.  Far from it.   I refer instead to that center of us where we judge things to be legitimate or not, of how things "fit" together, while always respecting the measures of good and evil that we can feel within us.

Without being honest, our thinking is often muddled and unclear, becoming a darkened place where lies and other deceits may be practiced without fear of being exposed.  Indeed, when most people open their mouths they're generally very self-serving, protecting themselves and excusing themselves at every instance--not a good way to "think."  And perhaps that's why "thinking" has become such a lost art amongst us....  In fact, "thinking" is often the enemy of those that wish for only propaganda, those that believe that they can think better than ourselves, take care of us better than we can, etc.., a notion by the way often supported by the extreme Left.

Of course, I'm supposing that "thinking" should also involve some effort.   Generally, when I refer to what it is to "think," in part, I'm immediately persuaded to see it as an intellectual process and skill akin to the process of scientific discovery, where hypotheses are constructed, things measured and weighed in the balance, and the results openly analyzed and demonstrated for all to consider and contemplate as to their fair and balanced meaning.  But it's more than this, although it most certainly involves the above, real "thinking" must involve more than just the mind and more than just an intellectual exercise.

Legitimate and appropriate, and truly "smart thinking" must involve self-reflection, introspection and the judgement of the heart, as well.  Now for those of you that know me, you'll know that I'm not talking about emotionalism here.  Far from it.   I refer instead to that center of us where we judge things to be legitimate or not, of how things "fit" together, while always respecting the measures of good and evil that we can feel within us.  Indeed, I would submit that without this heart-felt reflection, our "thinking" can only result in superstitious imaginings at best.   The mind and the heart must be so disciplined to work for the common cause of Truth, working together to understand our surroundings, of the problems at hand that call for resolution, assigning weights of measure as to what is important and what is not, and, wanting to see things as they really are without prejudice or darkness.  After all, the ability to "reason" itself is only possible when both heart and mind are equitably engaged.  Without such balance, compulsion rules without mercy, intellectualism without needed reign, power without love.  Indeed, within the heart and mind of a child, we see the appropriate needed balance, which ironically is so often missing in the adults of this world. 

Accordingly, this may be just another reason as to why we should obey the Lord's commandment of once again being converted as a little child.  Seeing how unbalanced we are to date, it's no wonder that most adults try to be "adults" without this necessary foundation of the children they used to be restored within their hearts.  Indeed, it's no wonder that most adults are superstitious and weak of mind, unskilled and unappreciative of the means to "think" appropriately.  To be sure, none of us can ever really "grow-up" straight and fine without the children we used to be once again restored within us...  nor think our way out of a paper bag, for that matter!

By the way..., the dinner was excellent as the food was finely prepared---despite the ongoing aberrant confusion coming from the yet-to-grow-up adult company!

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About the Author:  Dr. Gregory C.D. Young, Ph.D.(Oxon.) is a Clinical Psychologist and Neuroscientist having been educated abroad where he completed his postgraduate studies at King’s College, the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, and then graduated and received his Doctorate from the University of Oxford, Oxford, England. He has been in private clinical practice and medical research for over 25 years, being active as an author, popular radio and TV personality, public speaker, and biomedical researcher. An expert in a number of fields including Forensic/Criminal Psychology, Child and Family/Relationship Psychology, and Neuropsychology.  He has also served as an expert scientific advisor, product innovator and formulator, and professional consultant to the Medical and Pharmaceutical Industries. He is the author of The Winds of the Soul~Heaven’s First Voice To Us, as well as numerous other scholarly papers and works.

  Why don’t you take a moment and become part of the discussion. Share with me your perspective, questions, and comments; tell me what you think of all this by emailing me at: DrYoung@WindsoftheSoul.com.


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