The End of Independent Thinking?


I’ve come to a realization in the past few days.

I guess maybe my age is showing but it’s becoming increasingly evident people are unable to think for themselves. I remember as a child, I built model cars built by AMT, JoHan, or Revell; piecing and gluing each individual part, following instructions meticulously, painting each door, body and engine to perfection, assembling the final product and marvelling in it’s creation. 

I was taught Mathematics, Geometry and Algebra (along with other advanced courses) in High School; as well as the English language and the construction of our language. In order to solve mathematical problems we used the Slide Rule, a device complicated enough to require it’s own learning process. Remember diagramming? To take it even further, some of us were fortunate to learn other languages which enabled a deeper understanding of the construction of, and more importantly, the deconstruction of words and sentences.

I remember when I joined the Air Force and was being considered as a Language Specialist. One of the tests to determine the ability to learn new languages involved the development and structure of a “non-language” (The exam was the Defense Language Aptitude Battery).

Each of these facets of learning had one thing in common. The ability to reason, or quite simply, “figure it out”. One actually had to think in order to formulate a response and/or answer to a particular situation. Whether it was a mathematical formula, a sentence, or even putting together a model car, the success and gratification was in the accomplishment of the final product and the thought that went into it.

It’s not like that today. Today our children (or more importantly – their teachers and school administrators) focus more on passing state standard exams such as the woefully useless FCAT in Florida. Today we don’t buy model cars to put together, they already are. Today our High Schoolers depend on expensive electronic calculators to merely show them the correct graft or equation on a little green screen. Today the art of learning a language, nay…the art of learning the discipline of language, is lost in Google Translator. Today, people are spoon-fed information without the need to think about it.

As is our ability to research. Again, and once more – think for ourselves! Case in point: A few hours ago someone I know (without a computer) called me and asked me to Google a personal Hurricane Evacuation Plan for him.

Aside from the obvious fact that A. You get in the fucking car and head west!, or B. It’s all in the fucking phone book! is the most distressing: C. You couldn’t figure out A and B for yourself?

Which brings me to one final epithany.

Our country has always been one of political partisanship. The Constitution was written with the goal of perpetual discussion of the merits and demerits of a democracy. The process of our government has been under the microscope of evaluation for centuries.

What’s missing today, especially on the right, is Reason. We have pundits, politicians, prognosticators, and populists even networks throwing out wild theories and accusations. Why? Because they know the folks who listen to them are totally incapable of the thought processes needed to think things out. They are incapable of processing the words they hear, they can’t think it out…

When we have leaders of the Republican Party telling people ridiculous stuff like “The President’s not born in America!”, or “Brown people are illegal and don’t deserve rights”, or when people like Bill Wilder say “I want to see Florida a fag-free state!”, or the Attorney General of the State of Florida state that he doesn’t want a child raised by two loving people, or the outlandish Islamophobia coming from politicians and lilMike‘s keypads, we’re in a conundrum. Those of us with the intelligence, and reason, to realize this is bullshit, aren’t the targets.

It’s those who just don’t get it. Those who lack the intelligence or ability to “think it out“.

Think about it…

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17 responses »

  1. EKG’s comment is so true…
    Gone are the days when the news was given to you to decide and think about.
    It used to be they (media) counted on the fact that you are capable of thinking for yourselves” I believe they count on the fact that most are NOT capable of thinking for themselves, instead are looking for talking points, core values written on one’s hand, leaders to tickle they ears. Some can not endure sound doctrine, they like the fable, lie much better…

    • Thanks for visiting! I spent an hour or so yesterday visiting your blog and enjoyed it. Especially our mutual disdain for the Wasilla Hillbillies.

      ekg is wise beyond her years, my friend. Be sure to check out her blog too – http://thevsj.com/

      I sincerely hope you visit more…

  2. Interesting thread….I believe that it doesn’t matter what our idealogy may be, each of us think for ourselves. Some use their party or religion as a guide. Some us only their personal experience as a guide. Some have chose to be completely without propriety as their guide to life. They’re thinking for themselves, but without personal purpose.
    I appreciate your perspective and thank you for your comment on my blog.. I appreciate it..

  3. Wow, not only did I not mention anything on homeschooling, but you double downed on Hitler! Well all I can say is full speed ahead, although I have to admit, you do make it easy for me to mock.

    I guess it was too much to expect that you would have any proof that Bush cut federal spending. He doesn’t exactly have the reputation of a budget hawk. Oh well, I think the problems with education have more to do with this:
    http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/beltway-confidential/teachers-union-threatens-massive-boycott-of-los-angeles-times-for-reporting-on-teacher-performance-100787679.html

    … than with any imaginary Bush cuts to educational spending.

    • Imaginary?

      “US DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION PROGRAMS PROPOSED BY PRESIDENT BUSH TO BE TERMINATED IN 2006 – 2007

      — Educational technology state grants, $272 million – assists states in generating and using accurate and timely data to meet federal reporting requirements, and facilitate research needed to eliminate achievement gaps and improve learning of all students.

      — Even Start, $99 million – designed to improve the literacy of academic achievement of young children and their low-income families

      High school programs terminations:

      — Vocational education state grants, $1,182 million – aims to develop the academic, vocational, and technical skills of students who elect to enroll in vocational and technical programs

      — Vocational education national programs, $9 million

      — Upward Bound, $311 million – provides support to high schoolers from low-income families and to low-income first-generation military veterans to succeed in pre-college performance

      — GEAR UP, $303 million – designed to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in college; GEAR UP funds are also used to provide college scholarships to low-income students.

      — Talent search, $145 million – aims at increasing number of disadvantaged youth to complete high school and attend college

      — Tech prep education program, $105 million – Hailed by the Education Department website as “a significant innovation in the education reform movement in the United States….Tech Prep is an important school-to-work transition strategy, helping all students make the connection between school and employment.”

      — Smaller learning communities, $94 million – plan, implement or expand smaller learning communities in large high schools, and includes parents, community-based organizations and other community members in the activities of the smaller learning communities. This program was established by the No Child Left Behind Act in 2002.

      — Safe and Drug-Free Schools, $347 million – Includes the widely-praised DARE program

      Elementary and secondary education program terminations:

      — Parental information and resource centers, $40 million – assists parents whose children attend schools identified for improvements or corrections by the No Child Left Behind Act

      — Arts in education, $35 million – development of programs designed to improve or expand arts education (music, art, theater, dance) in elementary or middle school curricula

      — Elementary and secondary school counseling, $35 million – establishes or expands elementary and high school counseling programs, especially for schools with the greatest need for new and additional counseling services, and the most promising and innovative approaches

      — Alcohol abuse reduction, $32 million – aims to reduce alcohol abuse among secondary school students

      — Civic education, $29 million – programs in character, civics, and correctional education in elementary and high schools and colleges

      — National Writing Project, $22 million – a nationwide, nonprofit educational organization that promotes K-16 teacher training programs in the effective teaching of writing; serves more than 100,000 teachers at approximately 175 sites, and has served over 2 million teachers and administrators since its inception in 1974.

      — Star Schools, $15 million – improved instructions in math, science and foreign language for disabled, illiterate and disadvantaged students

      — School leadership,$15 million – assists in recruiting, training and retaining principals and assistant principals in low-income areas

      — Ready to Teach, $11 million – enables eligible schools to develop, produce and distribute innovative educational and instructional digital/video programming

      — Javits gifted and talented education, $10 million – meets special needs of gifted students who are disabled, disadvantaged and limited-English proficient

      — Exchanges with Historic Whaling and Trading Partners, $9 million – supports culturally-based educational activities, internships, apprenticeships and exchanges for Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and children and families of Massachusetts
      — Comprehensive school reform, $8 million – designed to increase student achievement by assisting high-poverty and low-achieving public schools with implementing comprehensive reforms that are grounded in scientifically-based research and effective practices
      — Dropout prevention program, $5 million – assists schools with annual dropout rates above their state average to implement effective dropout prevention and re-entry efforts

      — Mental Health integration in schools, $5 million – funds to increase student access to high-quality mental health care by developing innovative approaches that link school systems with the local mental health system

      — Women’s Educational Equity, $3 million – promotes educational equity for women and girls through via funding for local implementation of gender-equity policies and practices

      — Presidential Academies for American History and Civics, $2 million – workshops for both veteran and new teachers of American history and civics to strengthen their knowledge and preparation for teaching these subjects

      — Close-Up fellowships, $1 million – pays for economically-disadvantaged teachers and students, whose families have moved to the US within the last five years, to spend a week in Washington, DC. attending seminars on government and current events and meeting with leaders from the three branches of the federal government

      — Foundations for Learning, $1 million – support projects to help eligible children become ready for school

      — Excellence in Economic Education, $1 million – promotes economic and financial literacy among all K-12 students

      Higher Education Programs:

      — Education demos for students with disabilities, $7 million – to provide assistance and professional development for faculty and administrators in colleges in order to provide students with disabilities a quality education

      — Underground Railroad Program, $2 million – supports research, exhibition, interpretation, and collection of artifacts related to the history of the Underground Railroad

      — State grants for incarcerated youth offenders, $23 million – supports vocational and academic achievement to enable effective workplace and community transition for incarcerated youth

      Postsecondary Student Financial Assistance Programs:

      — Perkins Loan cancellations, $65 million – cancellation of student loans for qualified teachers in schools serving students from low-income families, of students with disabilities, or in the fields of mathematics, science, foreign languages, or bilingual education

      — Leveraging educational assistance programs, $65 million – LEAP provides need-based grants and community service work-study assistance to eligible college students

      — Robert Byrd Scholarship Program, $41 million – the only national, merit-based scholarship program funded through the Department of Education; named after Senator Robert Byrd, a Democratic member of Congress since 1953

      — Thurgood Marshall Legal Educational Opportunity, $3 million – aimed at increasing the number of students from low-income and minority backgrounds in law schools; named after the first African-American Supreme Court Justice

      — B.J. Stupak Olympic scholarships, $1 million – named after the deceased son of Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak

      Vocational rehabilitation programs:

      — Teacher Quality Enhancement, $60 million – supports partnerships among teacher preparation institutions, schools of arts and sciences, and local school districts in high-need areas; supports efforts to recruit highly qualified teachers for high-need areas; helps to to improve the quality of teaching forces in high-need areas.

      — Supported employment, $30 million – facilitates competitive work in integrated work settings for individuals with the most severe disabilities for whom competitive employment has not traditionally occurred. Supported employment is a way to move people from dependence on a service delivery system to independence via competitive employment.

      — Projects with industry, $20 million – creates and expands job and career opportunities for individuals with disabilities in the competitive labor market by engaging the participation of business and industry in the rehabilitation process

      — Vocational Rehabilitation Recreational programs, $3 million

      — Migrant and seasonal farmworkers,$2 million – vocational rehabilitation (services for migrant or seasonal farmworkers with disabilities.
      — Perkins Loans Institutional Fund recall, $664 million – The Bush Administration wants to withdraw the entirety of federal matching funds used to underwrite the Perkins Loan program, which cancels student loans for qualified teachers serving students from low-income families, of students with disabilities, or in the fields of mathematics, science, foreign languages, or bilingual education

      — Teaching American History, $71 million – supports programs that raise student achievement by improving teachers’ knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of American history

      — Physical Education, $47 million – initiates, expands and improve physical education programs for students from kindergarten through 12th grade in order to help students make progress toward meeting state standards for physical education

      — Mentoring Program, $30 million – promotes mentoring programs for children with greatest need by assisting them in receiving support and guidance from a mentor and to improve the academic achievement of those children. Additionally, mentoring programs work to reduce the dropout rate of at-risk children and to reduce juvenile delinquency and involvement in gangs.

      TOTAL US DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION SPENDING CUTS PROPOSED BY PRESIDENT BUSH FOR 2006 – 2007 : $4,279,000,000

      • Didn’t you know that I already knew the answer?

        Dept of education budget 2001: 35 billion

        Dept of education budget 2008: 56 billion

        Try again!

      • You don’t know the answer. You know a number. How much of that went to the failed NCLB? How many active and viable programs had funding cut throughout those years? All of them…

        http://edlabor.house.gov/publications/fy08edbudgetsummary.pdf

        President Bush proposes $56 billion for the Department of
        Education a -$1.5 billion reduction below the 2007 joint funding resolution pending in Congress
        despite increasing college costs and the challenging academic requirements under the No Child
        Left Behind law. President Bush also eliminates 44 key educational programs, reducing the
        federal investment in education by more than $2.2 billion.

        See, Mike, in your little myopic world of black and white, there’s far more to education than a failed plan to test teachers and schools and penalize them. Education is not just about reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmatic, nor is it about pulling your children out of the public school system in order to indoctrinate them to bigotry, hate, and ignorance at home under the pretense of “education”.

        Here’s more…far more telling than your numbers: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/02/03/national/main3783425.shtml

        The spiraling growth of Medicare and the high cost of renewing President Bush’s tax cuts are squeezing popular education, health, housing and anti-poverty programs in the budget blueprint that he hands lawmakers Monday.

        Even with difficult-to-digest proposals to curb Medicare costs and kill programs to repair dilapidated public housing, fund community action agencies and provide food to the elderly poor, Mr. Bush’s $3 trillion budget will project deficits around $400 billion this year and next.

        Mr. Bush’s submission is already absorbing brickbats from Democrats castigating him for inheriting a government in surplus and leaving Washington with a budget deficit that is likely to break the $413 billion record set four years ago, once war bills and the cost of giving the economy a fiscal jolt with tax rebate checks are factored in.

        The next president is going to inherit a colossal mess because of the fiscal irresponsibility of this president,” Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., chairman of the Budget Committee said Saturday.

        Think about this, too…http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=1083

        After the No Child Left Behind initiative was enacted, funding for K-12 education increased for several years. Since 2004, however, funding has failed to keep pace with inflation. In 2008, funding for K-12 education is 8.9 percent below the 2004 level, in inflation-adjusted dollars. The President’s proposed funding level falls just short of what would be needed to keep pace with inflation. As a result, under the President’s budget, K- 12 funding in 2009 would fall 9.1 percent below the 2004 funding level, adjusted for inflation.

        Head Start is another example. Head Start funding has essentially been frozen since 2002, without adjustment for inflation. As a result, when inflation is taken into account, funding in 2008 is 11 percent below the 2002 level. The President’s proposed 2009 funding level falls 12 percent below the 2002 inflation-adjusted level.

        I especially love this amazingly clairvoyant piece: http://www.epi.org/publications/entry/briefingpapers_budget2011/

        •These budget cuts have real impacts on programs: 70,000 fewer Head Start slots; 125,000 fewer students in after-school programs; 60,000 fewer child care slots; 630 fewer drug enforcement agents; 1,830 fewer FBI agents; 195,000 fewer dislocated workers served; and 125,000 fewer young workers trained.

        Telling, indeed! Now, where’s that explanation of the home schooling indoctrination your children receive?

      • As is often the case, you lost me! What homeschooling are you babbling about? My kids are public school kids.

        You sure love nonsense.

      • Nonesence! Your future inductees may or may not be home-schooled. I would, however, love to know your opinion of the terrible turn home schooling has taken thanks to those you support. And you know what I’m talking about.

  4. Wow, I’m still in your head! Well at least if you are going to use me as fodder for your blogs you provided a link so thanks for that!

    In between getting my twice weekly Islamaphobia shots and painting Palin’s toenails, I would agree there has been a dumbing down of education. However since the left has been running the educational establishment in the US for decades, who should get the blame for that?

    There are successful educational models and schools ongoing across the country, but the establishment left is mostly opposed to any real reform. However there is a shining light in this administration’s mostly dismal appointments, Secretary of Education Duncan. He seems to really be concerned with the end goal; educating kids. Sometimes only Nixon can go to China so maybe a secretary appointed by a far left President can actually push across a little “change” that won’t be a disaster.

    • Mike,

      The only thing you have to do with my head is the constant shaking it does when folks believe your extreme shit.

      As far as my blog post, the point wasn’t about the nation’s educational system (although it’s definitely in need of repair after years of Republican cuts*) it’s the definite lack of intelligence within the minds of the followers of the scurrious words people like you type. You know, those who don’t think for themselves and merely mimic other folks (like Sarah Palin) with limited intelligence.

      *Of course, you and I both know the best model for an efficient educational system is that of the Department of Defense. A system that far exceeds that of the crap taught in today’s schools – and without the mass influence and indoctrination of our young so prevalent in the Christian Right concept of homeschooling.

      Hitler and his youth wish they had it so good…

      • If you got a ticket for every violation of Godwin’s Law you would be broke and serving time by now.

        I’m curious about these Republican education “cuts” you are referring to. The education budget went up, by quite a lot during the dreaded Bush years. But even you must realize by now that money just isn’t the problem with our education system, it’s the system itself.

      • The only money Bush spent on education was the terrible waste of “Test and Punish” NCLB. It’s destroyed our school, teachers, and students…and was paid for by massive cuts on the Federal and (most of all) the State levels.

        Godwin’s Law? Really? I’d love to hear your explanation of the type of homeschooling you so proudly espouse. Like I said, it would make the Hitler Youth look like the Boy Scouts!

  5. It really is incredulous that stupidity and ignorance have become so commonplace and vocal in our country, solely because a black man (shudder!) was elected President.

    The same people who grew up playing video games, picking their noses, growing fat eating McDonalds and other assorted junk foods, moving from one temp job to another, watching WWE and declaring it Real Sport!have finally decided to come out of the political closet after having jacked off to Sarah Palin’s wink wink and illegible sentences and words now think they KNOW what’s right for our country?

    Puhleeze!

    And why am I thinking of Iceman and Gryff after typing that sentence??? 🙂

  6. Gone are the days when the news was given to you for you to with as you are capable.. and in it’s place are the days when it is chewed up into little bits pieces and fed to you so you know how to feel.

    I watched Hannity for 2 minutes last night, that’s a record for me I usually last about 15 seconds,but in a fake attempt to be ‘fair/balanced’ he had some unknown liberal model or some one on to speak for the liberal side. Each time he tried to speak he would start his sentence off, but before he could finish Hannity was screaming over him. That wouldn’t be so bad, but he was also picking one line of the unfinished sentence to sarcastically use against the kid.

    ex. they were talking about the Imam at the center of of the WTC mosque. Hannity kept saying the guy hated the USA and blamed the USA for the 9/11 attack.(these are not quotes,they are examples). Hannity demanded
    “Is he right, are we at fault.. I don’t think so but you’re a liberal so you do think he’s right”

    and this poor unqualified lib tried to answer with reason, he started off

    “Listen, Sean,”

    to which Hannity loudly interrupted “Tell me, is this Imam right”..

    and the lib had to start again “It’s more complicated than than that, what he’s..”…

    Hannity “Oh it’s complicated, too complicated for me to understand.. little ole me, I don’t understand… I just think when someone says the USA caused 9/11 that’s unAmerican and this unamerican Muslim shouldn’t be able to build his mosque at the steps of the WTC where 3000 American lost their lives because of Muslim fanatics who blame this country, but since I’m not a progressive, I just don’t get it!.

    I almost expected to see Hannity “High-five” someone off camera because he’d ‘gotten’ the liberal in some way..

    I get what the lib was trying to say, it’s more complicated than a ‘yes or no’ answer, but Hannity didn’t want anything BUT a yes or no, and the second he saw that he was about to get a ‘reasoned’ answer, he dove in to stop it.. “oh little ole me, it’s too complicated for us ‘real’ Americans to understand” as he hams to the camera.. It’s like watching Robert Downy Jr. in Natural Born Killers, where he played a caricature of Geraldo.. only Hannity isn’t acting in a fiction(ok, well yeah he is but you know what I mean) he’s supposed to be delivering the news..

    we’re fucking Jerry Springer. All those kids who grew up watching and chanting “Jerry-Jerry-Jerry” they’ve tuned in to Hannity/Beck/Bill O/Cavuto and Megan Kelly to get their ‘springer’ fix. They don’t want to think for themselves, they don’t want to hear that this Imam was explaining how the USA is responsible for creating Bin Laden because we trained him and his kind to fight for us, then we left them to suffer the consequences when we left them.. Is it our fault they attacked us? simple answer is No. But the true ‘reasoned’ answer is “yes/no but…”

    We decided with Bush that we wanted to be ‘dumbed down’ but it didn’t really settle until McCain tapped Uber-stupid-from Wasilla to run as VP.. she has made a living off of being dumb and hot. She’s even got her followers to believe she’s really smart, it’s the MSM (or LSM) who twist her words a make her stupid.. “Oh it’s ok she got caught reading off her hand, that just proves she’s the salt of the earth” .. “Oh it’s ok that she showed contempt for school teachers when she confronted that woman holding the Anti-Palin banner, and it’s OK that her daughter verbally attacked that woman, she’s just like us, she’s not a celeb, just because she has 7 camera’s following her while she does her TV show, that doesn’t mean she’s a celeb.. but that gay-lover patty mcpatterson on the TV, that’s a celebs huh”

    it’s maddening trying to even speak with this kind of person.. much less actually teach them something instead of just chewing it up and feeding it to them.. because all you’ll get is an eye-roll and “Oh it’s Bush’s fault” or the best showing of their stupidity “You guys just hate Sarah Palin don’t you?”

    If I could live in another country, I’d give them the Palin-government they yearn for.. unfortunately though, I don’t and I haven’t drank the koolaid that killed my brain-cells and rendered me incapable of going against my conservative base so I still think for myself… and that of course makes me the feared “Liberal”..

    oy vey..

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