The Thinker’s Way

Once in a while, I’m able to pick up a non-electronic information source and absorb data by turning flattened solidified wood-pulp and observing the characters printed upon said flattened wood-pulp. Of course, I’m referring to that underrated object otherwise known as a book. Our children have a vague notion of what a book is since they like getting their information from the Internet, but I digress…

The book I picked up was “The Thinker’s Way” by John Chaffee. This book leads the reader through exercises to develop critical thinking skills (among other things). While I’m just beginning to read this book and absorb the concepts (and this is not something that can be done in a short time), I ran across the following passage that I thought I would share with you.

We live in a world full of closed-minded and dogmatic people, convinced they are always right. Our society has suffered a decline in values, an environment in which telling the truth, acting honestly, and treating people differently have been sacrificed in the name of the bottom line or “success.” Discriminatory attitudes toward virtually every group are commonplace, and are rivaled only by people trying to gain advantage by casting themselves as victims. Our society has become increasingly factionalized, led by pandering and often corrupt politicians who magnify these divisions for their own purposes. Children are forced to endure an educational system that is often more concerned with the transfer of information that with genuine learning, a system that emphasized conformity over personal development. We are inundated with mindless television shows, virulent hate-talk on the radio, and music played too loud to let yourself think. We are forced to deal daily with people who are irrational, disorganized, confused, and inarticulate. In many respects we are experiencing the answer to the question: “What happens when people live in an unthinking way?”

What a powerful paragraph!! How can anyone dispute these words? One can only comment and expand on these observations.

How many of us out in bloggerland have been close-minded & not willing to change when confronted with facts and opinions contrary to our own? I know that I have, but I have made changes to my value system when confronted with verifiable facts & rational arguments. There are other values that cannot be changed because to do so would change the core of my being. And I imagine that the majority of people out there are the same way.

But what many of us here in this new medium are doing is having a conversation on many different subjects. In essence, exchanging ideas and opinions to others, either to put forth our points of view and change the world in our own way, or just to rant about what we perceive to be wrong with the world, our work, or life in general. For many of us (me included), this is a chance to think about and comment on the world that we all live in, and perhaps change someone’s viewpoint in the process. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

Now some of you may have objected to the previous post and comments, and that’s fine. Offending someone is often a risk that we all take when we write our posts. I wrote the post in such a way that would illustrate the hypocrisy of taking a stance on defending the innocent on one hand, and yet allowing them to be killed on the other. I expected to get flamed, but you’ll also notice that I didn’t get an answer to the question at the end of the post (probably a hard-core Liberal hasn’t landed here – yet). Regardless, I wanted you to THINK about your values, and where they stood in contrast to others. Was I successful in the effort? You tell me.

The point is that it is easy to react to whatever is on the news (or posted in a blog), and dash off a ranting post or retort. But what good is that if doing so, you don’t think about what is really going on or what you’re saying? We’ve become enamored with the quick sound bite and forming an opinion from a minimum of information without a second thought. That’s dangerous. And I’ve done it, much to my regret, and so have many of you.

Perhaps it is this thought and experience that has taught me some caution over the years, the desire to dig into what the facts are and thinking about them before inserting foot into mouth. It’s also the reason that many times I’m behind the curve on many of the hot topics floating around the blogsphere. And that’s OK with me – I would much rather allow situations to develop and have the facts come out before posting erroneous information.

But then, over-analysis has its drawbacks too – anything can be analyzed to death without coming to a reasonable conclusion. For instance, I got the following email recently:

A Japanese company (reported to be Toyota) and an American company (General Motors?) decided to have a canoe race on the Missouri River. Both teams practiced long and hard to reach their peak performance before the race.

On the big day, the Japanese won by a mile.

The Americans, very discouraged and depressed, decided to investigate the reason for the crushing defeat. A team of senior managers was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate action.

Their conclusion was the Japanese had 8 people rowing and 1 person steering, while the American team had 8 people steering and 1 person rowing.

Feeling a deeper study was needed, American management hired a consulting company and paid them a large amount of money for a second opinion. They advised, of course, that too many people were steering the boat, while not enough people were rowing.

Not sure of how to utilize that information, but wanting to prevent another loss to the Japanese, the rowing team’s management structure was totally reorganized to 4 steering supervisors, 3 area steering superintendents and 1 assistant superintendent steering manager and one rower.

They also implemented a new performance system that would give the 1 person rowing the boat greater incentive to work harder. It was called the “Rowing Team Quality First Program,” with meetings, dinners and free pens for the rower. There was discussion of getting new paddles, canoes and other equipment, extra vacation days for practices, and bonuses.

The next year the Japanese won by two miles.

Humiliated, the American management laid off the rower for poor performance, halted development of a new canoe, sold the paddles, and canceled all capital investments for new equipment.

The money saved was distributed to the Senior Executives as bonuses and the next year’s racing team was outsourced to India.

But does that mean I’m not going to post an opinion on any number of topics? What do you think? Of course I’m going to post opinions & beliefs – would you think otherwise? After all, everyone is entitled to their opinion, no matter how wrong or right it may be. I just hope that my posted opinions & comments are informed and interesting to all 8 ½ readers of this blog…

Later…

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About Tom Roland

EE for 25 Years, Two Patents - now a certified PMP. Married twice, burned once. One son with Asperger's Syndrome. Two cats. Conservative leaning to the Right. NRA Life Member.
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2 Responses to The Thinker’s Way

  1. Tom says:

    Well, in my opinion this is a very good post and it’s only slightly opinionated.

    Seriously, you raise many good points, Tom. I had to go back and re-read your previous post in order to understand what you were referring to. I would also be very interested in any answer a true liberal might have regarding your question” “If children are so precious that they must be protected against all harm, real and imagined, then why, why, do you support, in any of its grotesque & horrific forms, the abortion of innocent unborn children?” It’s an excellent question, and all I can think of is because they don’t consider the unborn as children at all. Is it possible that they actually believe that the baby isn’t really a human until it can breathe on it’s own? I don’t know; I’m just asking.

    I would be interested to know if you ever get an answer.
    Gayle | Homepage | 03.08.07 – 12:03 pm | #

    Gayle – So would I!!
    Tom | Homepage | 03.08.07 – 6:38 pm | #

  2. Joan Bailey says:

    My mind is pretty made up when it comes to my views. I feel that they are the most just for all concerned, which is actually everybody. In my America, I would give everyone rights, not just a few. Now, if a person don’t want rights, that’s fine, just don’t wish to take away everybody else’s.

    Take taxes, I feel most if not all, are illegal. A Socialist gave me all these reasons why we must be made to pay taxes, but I just can’t get passed the thinking of why shouldn’t we as individuals have the right to say where our own money goes? That person says we didn’t earn most of it anyway. Well, to this I say, in my America, the doctor would make more than the store clerk.

    Freedom of Assembly is something we all should be allowed to do. Citizens want government to dictate who we can and can’t associate with, and than government turns around and offers those employers kickbacks for doing just that. Freedom of speech I must say is quite expensive these days. But that’s only because government also gives tax cuts to employers that only keeps those workers that stifle themselves on and off the job.

    Alot of it seems to boil down to taxes. Well, there is another word for it, and it’s not very nice, it’s actually quite smug. The word is Tribute. And I for one can’t get passed it. I feel like it’s actually a snotty remark.

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