Americans are Void of Critical Thinking Skills

ThinkingManby Patricia L. Dickson10/13/15
Never has there been a time in history requiring that an individual be equipped with critical thinking skills more than now. The biggest problem that America is facing today is the inability of the vast majority of the citizenry to think critically. Matt Drudge went so far as to say that Americans are sick. Lack of the ability to think critically is a mental symptom that affects all people regardless of their level of education, economic status, age, race, ethnicity, sex, or political party (although it appears that liberals are more likely to lack such skills). If we are to ever bring America back to the point where she is great again, the majority of the citizens are going to have to acquire and hone critical thinking skills.

Why is it imperative for the citizenry to be able to think critically? Because the mainstream media has abandoned its responsibility of reporting facts in exchange for distracting, distorting, propagandizing and protecting. The public education system also ran by liberals, has dumbed down the quality of education in exchange for explicit (non-age appropriate) sex education and revised negative American history. For these reasons, individuals must master the ability to think critically in order to navigate through the lies and distortions coming from the mainstream media so that we can elect people based on his or her record of accomplishments, stance on important issues, and the substance of his or her rhetoric.

Not a day goes by without my reading about some illogical narrative being presented as journalism when it is really propaganda used to appeal to the emotions of its audience. In wake of the mass shooting at the college campus in Roseburg, Oregon, gun control advocates have gone off the rails. Anyone that these people in the media sees as a threat to their illogical narrative that guns kill people, must be destroyed. After the shooting, CNN trotted out the deadbeat father of the shooter, Ian Mercer, to advocate stricter gun laws. Mr. Mercer has not been a part of his son’s life, yet he had the audacity to say that he did not know how his son was able to get the guns. Governor Bobby Jindal highlighted the fact that some of the blame should be put on the shooter’s father for not raising his son:

Now, let’s get really politically incorrect here and talk specifically about this horror in Oregon. This killer’s father is now lecturing us on the need for gun control and he says he has no idea how or where his son got the guns. Of course he doesn’t know. You know why he doesn’t know? Because he is not, and has never been in his son’s life. He’s a complete failure as a father, he should be embarrassed to even show his face in public. He’s the problem here. He brags that he has never held a gun in his life and that he had no idea that his son had any guns. Why didn’t he know? Because he failed to raise his son. He should be ashamed of himself, and he owes us all an apology.

Charles Pierce, a liberal writer for the men’s magazine Esquire, became so enraged at Governor Jindal for his statements that he wrote an article that is actually headlined “Please Punch This Man in the D***“.  He never explained why the governor’s statements called for such violence. He only made the following statements:

This’ll be good for at least a three-point bump in the next poll of Iowa Republicans. However, would I be uncivil if I were to suggest that somebody punch this man right in his dick?

Liberals become enraged when faced with the truth. When faced with an article that is void of a real topic and fails to point the reader to its true purpose, the reader has to asked several questions of the writer. We must always ask questions in order to get to the facts. This is how critical thinking actually works. If one is asking questions, he or she is thinking. Dr. Linda Elder and the late Dr. Richard Paul, founders of The Critical Thinking Community, said the following about one’s quality of thinking:

The quality of our lives is determined by the quality of our thinking. The quality of our thinking, in turn, is determined by the quality of our questions, for questions are the engine, the driving force behind thinking. Without questions, we have nothing to think about. Without essential questions, we often fail to focus our thinking on the significant and substantive.

When we ask essential questions, we deal with what is necessary, relevant, and indispensable to a matter at hand. We recognize what is at the heart of the matter. Our thinking is grounded and disciplined. We are ready to learn. We are intellectually able to find our way about.

To be successful in life, one needs to ask essential questions: essential questions when reading, writing, and speaking; when shopping, working, and parenting; when forming friendships, choosing life-partners, and interacting with the mass media and the Internet.

Yet few people are masters of the art of asking essential questions. Most have never thought about why some questions are crucial and others peripheral. Essential questions are rarely studied in school. They are rarely modeled at home. Most people question according to their psychological associations. Their questions are haphazard and scattered.

The time has come for taxpaying American citizens to get serious about how we think. We cannot continue to allow the media and slick talking politicians to guide our thinking. Because thinking is hard work, most people would rather someone else do the thinking for them. That is how we got where we are today. For those who want to improve his or her thinking, I suggest your purchase a copy of The Art of Asking Essential Questions, a $6.00 miniature guide.


PatriciaDicksonPatricia Dickson blogs at Patricia’s Corner.
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13 Responses to Americans are Void of Critical Thinking Skills

  1. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    Thank God, Jindal came out and said what he said. What was it Orwell said, “in a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

    The Left cannot allow logic and truth get in the way of their narrative. If it were true that sons need fathers, that would go some way to destroying their worship of the State as Big Daddy.

    As to questions, it is clear no one is being taught the Socratic method any longer. Or perhaps it has been badly taught. Degrading the minds of our youth has been an object of the Left for decades

  2. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I think by “critically thinking” skills we mean “reality thinking” skills instead of “narrative thinking” skills. Who will break the Leftist narrative and replace it with something more appealing, more truly American?

    And let’s remember that the Leftist narrative is, by and large, a replacement for thinking. As our schools, media, and entertainment complex help to create a dumb-down populace, the simple narratives are a replacement for thinking. We are creating a dumb, brutish mob, not a “critically thinking” populace who understands that life is more complex than the bumper-sticker slogans of the Left.

    But who wants complex let alone reality? The current emphasis on narcissism (whatever thoughts or feelings are in your head, it is your *right* to have them verified and “respected” in the wider world) is a leaden impediment to taking in new information. Why do so if you already think you are the smartest and nicest person on the planet?

    And if only that can of clarity would come through when Jindal is engaging in presidential debates.

  3. Timothy Lane says:

    It’s a great irony that public miseducators will justify their opposition to any testing of the knowledge they impart to their charges by saying that it’s more important for them to learn how to think. In reality, what they prefer to teach is political dogma at the expense both useful knowledge and skills and the ability to think critically (which, after all, might be used to test their dogmas).

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Given that the current sin we’re working on is “pride,” it’s certainly not unheard of for people to get a notion in their head (no matter how it got there) and stick to it. They know, and you telling them they don’t know is an implicit attack on their integrity and ability.

      I would say that “critical thinking,” to the extent that this term means anything, means the ability and willingness to engage in a little intellectual, emotional, and cultural humility. I may be damn set that I know everything I need to know about Winston Churchill, for example, but what if I’m wrong?

      There are then two choices: Re-write the history books or learn something new. The Left has chosen to re-write the history books instead of learning something new. And I won’t claim that it is human nature not to be intellectually intransigent. But one of the pillars of Western Civilization is certainly to break through this natural intransigence and blinkered-ness and learn something new.

      Tragically, what the Left has done is to engage in a grand masquerade of this kind of openness by simply slanting that “openness” to anything counter-cultural. But they are closed to anything else. But once you have bought into the narrative that anything that came before your time is unworthy of even needing to learn, then any “critical thinking” skills are necessarily lost because only data that fits your rather fascistic, narcissistic, narrow paradigm is admitted.

  4. The need for critical thinking skills is more prevalent then we realize. I experience it on a daily basis. I constantly end up discussing political issues (unsolicited on my part) with all kinds of people and I am stunned by the lack of thought that people put into what they choose to believe. Just the other day I was having dinner with a Korean American man with a doctorate in philosophy and theology. He earned his various degrees from Hamburg University in Germany and Yale University here in the US. He speaks fluent German. He teaches at different universities here in California and he leads a Christian organization that trains Korean students for ministry. He asked me who I was voting for in the 2016 election. I told him that I am currently supporting Trump. This man, who has been an American citizen since 1985, said that Trump wants to send all immigrants back. I had to explain to him that Trump was talking about illegal aliens. He also told me that he voted for the democrats in the past but since they are pro-gay marriage, he would not support them any longer. I asked him why he supported the democrats in the first place. He said because they are for the little people (poor people). I then had to explain to him that democrats are taking HIS tax dollars to support the illegals (especially here in California). He said he never knew that or thought of it that way.

    Just last night I was dragged into a debate on facebook by one of my cousins who has a Ph.D. in something (I am not quite sure what it is in). She tagged me and asked for my input in a discussion she was having with some of her friends about why the black community does not support Dr. Carson like they support Obama. My answer was simple…..because he is a republican. ALL of the people (mostly black, democrats and educated) in the discussion denied that that was the real reason. When I asked for specifics to why they did not support Dr. Carson, they immediately started parroting liberal talking points that they got from MSNBC or CNN (although they did not acknowledge that is where they got their misinformation). One guy’s number one grievance with Carson was a comment he made comparing the Affordable Care Act to slavery. I explained to him that because citizens are FORCED to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty, it becomes a form of slavery because we are not free to choose. I further explained that when an individual is not free, he or she is a slave. In addition, the poor already had Medicaid therefore we did not need Obamacare. I immediately sensed that none of the individuals on the discussion knew that the Affordable Care Act mandated that everyone purchase healthcare insurance or pay a penalty. We discussed more topics as well. I explained what the Separation of Church and State really means and where it originated. I could give many more examples but it would turn into a book.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      Your comments confirm the stereotype Dem voter who neither thinks nor searches for information when it comes to the party he supports. He votes on basis of feeling and false info.

      Your Korean friend is an interesting case. If he grew up in Korea before 1985, he would have grown up in a country which was pretty authoritarian and where people’s rights were not very well respected. This was particularly the case under Park, but even Noh and Chun were not a lot better. There were continuous riots for years. I recall one year the richest person in Korea was the producer of tear-gas.

      I have noted that Asians, in general, are much more accepting of and comfortable with big government. No doubt this due to their history.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Much of the problem is simple ignorance, a consequence of the malfeasance of the synoptic media. That’s why people who don’t follow political issues as assiduously as we do are unaware of so many crucial facts.

      I believe it was in 1972 that the New Guard (the YAF magazine) had a cartoon of a plantation owner putting up signs for a runaway slave. He couldn’t understand why he ran away — he had a guaranteed income, health care, even care in his old age.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Just the other day I was having dinner with a Korean American man with a doctorate in philosophy and theology.

      “Stop the tape!” as Rush would say. These days a university degree in the soft sciences is a guarantee of believing some silly things. As Dennis Prager says, the many ridiculous things people believe today could only happen because they’ve been to university.

      She tagged me and asked for my input in a discussion she was having with some of her friends about why the black community does not support Dr. Carson like they support Obama. My answer was simple…..because he is a republican. ALL of the people (mostly black, democrats and educated) in the discussion denied that that was the real reason.

      A marvelous and straightforward (and correct) analysis of the situation, Patricia. It’s that “R” that makes all the difference. And like I said, I have little affinity for what passes for Republican these days. But I try to imagine the message I would sending out if I, as a black person, was judging another by no more than a letter in the alphabet. For shame.

      And you describe a situation that perhaps has less to do with “critical thinking” and more to do with lazy thinking and a generally uninformed populous who (for various reasons) doesn’t care to be informed. They let others do their thinking.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Marvin Olasky recently pointed out very nicely the difference between the Republicans and Democrats (in an article I read today in Conservative Chronicle). The GOP cannot be counted on to do the right thing — but the Democrats can almost always be counted on to do the wrong one. Republicans are simply a lesser evil — and on rare occasion, not an evil at all.

  5. David says:

    While I generally agree with the thought provoking intent of the article, I’m not convinced the American public as a whole are the problem here. Let me explain.
    If it were, as is suggested, that the larger percentage of the American public DID have a critical thinking problem, then America commerce would be at a standstill and we’d have Baltimore like situations all over – not just in isolated occurrences. Such is not the case – yet.
    I contend that the American Press corp, the American Entertainment Industry, and the MSM, if you will, along with those whose lives are measured by how many blogs they update daily are the culprits here. While the footprint of their work seems large – they represent a much smaller part of the population. They are the ones in need of remediation.
    I’m just saying…
    -David

    • Timothy Lane says:

      The key is that most Americans don’t have the interest in political and policy questions that we do, so they pay only a limited amount of attention to them, and thus rely on a limited number of sources, usually one aspect or another or the synoptic media, which means they are inherently ill-informed. Unfortunately, such people nevertheless see themselves as good voters, partly because those same sources encourage that attitude. They’re what Steve Shadegg (longtime Barry Goldwater campaign manager) referred to as “indifferents” as distinct from genuine independents (who really aren’t all that numerous).

    • David,
      I contend that the vast majority of Americans do not have the ability to think critically based on the situation we are in today. The democratic debate is a prime example. There is no way twenty years ago that two of the main candidates for the highest office would stand on a stage before the American people and promise to give away free stuff to illegal aliens. Not to mention the so-called front runner is being investigated for criminal activity, nevertheless; she gets rave reviews from the media. The Drudge Report posted a link to an article that is reporting that the leading women in the DNC are demanding the Hillary be the nominee because she is a woman.

      The electorate elected a man for president(twice) with no executive experience simply because he is black. Meanwhile, our foreign policy is in a mess. The job market is not that good and yet a failed secretary of state is the front-runner for president. And if the republicans do not nominate a strong candidate (bulldog) that will fight both Hillary and the media, we will get the first female president. The very reason that we need a strong candidate to fight the media is because the citizens lack critical thinking skills and therefore cannot discern that they are being lied to. If you believe that the majority of Americans are not the problem, then how did we get where we are?

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I contend that the American Press corp, the American Entertainment Industry, and the MSM, if you will, along with those whose lives are measured by how many blogs they update daily are the culprits here.

      Don’t forget public education and higher education. And, in other words, these segments of society act as a filter and indoctrination engine for Cultural Marxism leading to the absurdities that Patricia has outlined. Yep. And this filter corrupts the ability to think, critically or otherwise. Yep. I think we’re on the same page.

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