Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Critical Thinking. Or Lack Thereof.

File under “duh.” Is what I thought when I saw the headline: “Conspiracy theorists lack critical thinking skills: New study.” But it was a slow day, so I read the article. Although it lacked a link to the study, it described what was done: giving groups of students an established critical thinking essay test and correlating results with belief in conspiracy theories. The unsurprising results, and the test itself, are stated in the article. Like I said: duh. It did make a provocative, if questionable point, saying susceptibility to conspiratorial thinking had nothing to do with intelligence. Well, okay. Maybe it’s a matter of definition. 

But that’s not the important part. The article also cited studies showing that, unlike intelligence, critical thinking can be taught. Which led to an “aha” moment. It explains the depressing scenes of demon-possessed parents at school board meetings, spouting insane falsehoods, threatening jobs and lives, based on fact-free belief in repeatedly disproved conspiracy theories. Critical Race Theory being taught in schools. Unnamed “studies” showing the ineffectiveness and dangers of wearing masks. And of vaccines. Comparing (because Tucker Carlson and the rest of Fox’s falsifiers do) mask mandates to felonious child abuse, or to the Holocaust. Threatening dire reprisals

Lacking, as they do, critical thinking skills, those blood-in-the-eye, crazed true believers can’t help themselves. Knowingly pushing those lies, though, the prime poisoners of their paralyzed perceptions can. Which is where the article triggered the “aha.” It’s in public schools, after all, that people begin to acquire critical thinking skills and the desire to engage them. And what Foxotrumpian leaders fear most is critical thinking.

As with the need to create distrust in free and fair elections, which they know they can’t win, so the Trumpublican Party needs to create as much distrust in public education as possible, lest too many citizens become thinkers. They’ve been working on it for decades; now, the pandemic has gifted them the perfect whipping-up boy. Vaccines. Masks. Mandates. Pure evil, right in our schools, intentionally harming our kids. Just like those child-trafficking, baby-killing, blood-drinking, liberal hangers-out at pizza joints.

But, Q dang it, critical thinking can be taught! Which imperils the con; namely, spreading lies to keep people distracted from what Trumpublicans are doing to their health, their education, their planet, their future, (in the case of infrastructure, it’s what they’re not doing), their chance at The American Dream -- in order to reward themselves and their donors.

Uncharacteristically, a guest on Fox “news” just unbagged the feline. “This is gonna be a boon, or a boom,” he said, referring to those demented protests at school board meetings, “for private schools, for charter schools, for homeschoolers, who are gonna look for an alternative other than in the public schools…” 

That’s the logic: Voters who think critically see through the grift. Critical thinking starts with public education. Ergo, destroy or dumb it down to meaninglessness. Whitewash history. Knowing it’s nothing of the sort, call teaching about slavery or the Trail of Tears, for example, attempts to get white kids to hate themselves. Describe efforts, in K-12 education, to mitigate the effects of poverty on performance, as “divisive.” Ban it from curricula. It’s “cancel culture,” multiplied times Texas. Where it’s been raised to supra-snowflake levels

In fairness – and I’m nothing if not fair – I’ll assume most of those furious parents believe they’re acting in their children’s interest. Because they lack the tools of resistance to Carlsonian confabulations, they’re unquestioning in their conspiratorial worldview, certain that even violence is justified. Who wouldn’t be, to protect their kids? Sadly, for everyone, they’re incapable of realizing the harm being done is coming from them

But, we’ve read, they’re not all stupid. Which means, had they any desire, they’re capable of exerting the minimal effort required to learn the truth. Theories abound about the attraction of conspiracy theories, and why such people prefer them. Mental illness. Loneliness. Desperation to belong. Validation of self-worth. Brains evolved to seek connections, short-circuiting into paranoia. Whatever the explanation, it’s there for exploitation by people of ill will. And if it’s always been a part of the human condition, the internet and (anti-)social media have given it the power to destroy. Nations. Democracy. Schools.

On the same slow day, I read an article about people trying to free themselves from the brain-eating bondage of Q-anon. Seeking cult-conversion therapy. Both hopeful and depressing, it describes only a small number of victims finding a way out. While others dig in deeper. 

At this point, is there a solution? Education? If only. Watch this, and decide.


  1. Voter Fraud: Just another grift

    "Nearly a year after offering up a hefty bounty for evidence of voter fraud in the wake of Donald Trump's loss, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has handed out his first reward. But instead of going to an informant who smoked out fraud by Democrats, Patrick's five-figure payout went to a progressive poll worker in Pennsylvania whose tip led to a single conviction of illegal voting by a registered Republican."

  2. I posted this before. It's worth revisiting because nothing has changed really. It's W. VA. land of the Man-Chin. Look what they've done to their state(nothing in 50-60 years). Anyone wanna take a crack at the IQ of "papah"? How much critical thinking do you see in this piece? I saw none.

    What I saw was people who hate Seattle and coastal elites. Yet? They are begging "Google, to come in and take over..." When asked what the chances of that were, the chick running for office said "It'd be cheaper!" She complained about "lies" and promises never kept...Then she feeds voters with the Google or Amazon "taking over" grand scheme. The alt right does equate freedom with takeovers. hmmm...but...

    That's dumb, because they wouldn't get a job working for free, because they don't have the skills and never will. And they'd complain about who uses what bathroom.

    This county was the #1 Drumpf supporters county at 91%+ voted for him. They are stuck in time and refuse to move or do anything cuz they feel owed and entitled. They're all on welfare and unvaxxed at this point 5 years later. 'murkah is full of shithole counties like this in Man-Chin W. VA.

    Why the poorest county in West Virginia has faith in Donald Trump" (gee I wonder???)

  3. Nothing has changed. Why are these people so incapable of getting themselves together? Generations have done nothing but talk about what they did yesterday. And how they deserve today because of yesterday. On food stamps and they always put people down for that.

    "Appalachia: Rich Land, Poor People"

  4. Gang Stalking...AKA: Alarmist Bullies who use authority to unjustly control the lives of everyone around them without their knowledge.

    "So it came as a surprise to Skip Erickson when the HOA board this spring declared that its neighborhood was now besieged by crime, with “bullets flying,” street racing and burglaries “terrorizing the families.”

    "To address the threat, the board said it wanted to buy one of the country’s hottest new security tools: license plate readers built to scan the tag on every passing vehicle for later inspection by homeowners and police."

    Finally someone states the obvious...

    "“It does, frankly, create new public safety problems when you put powerful surveillance tools in the hands of untrained people who are fixated on local crime,” he said."

    Ya think???

    "But the cameras’ supporters said they felt mystified by all the resistance. Going soft on crime could put their families at risk, they argued — and no one on public roads should expect privacy, anyway. If their opponents weren’t criminals, what did they have to hide? Who wouldn’t want to feel safer?"

    They always say that because when you go to court it means something. All of this is a blueprint that home owners associations can ultra gentrify their surroundings at a distance. A gated community w/o the gate. You just let the vigilantes take care of the "safety".

    The former president and members of the board are all the same ilk. It's a crime family basically and if you don't agree and play ball they will destroy your life and you'll be begging to move. I fought and 22K and 3 years later I "won". But in state appellate court, not Skagit county. They DO NOT RULE ON LAW. That's how appeals are won. The first ruling was total bullshit. They blocked my easement for 3+ years because they, Skat courts and specifically judge John M. Meyer wouldn't give me an injunction which is the normal remedy. He shoulda tossed the case. The plat read it's an easement end of story. And Sherriff Mike Morrel was in charge of lying for the home owners association and enforcing the "law" over the jersey barrier across my easement. If anyone moved it, he'd arrest you. And you can believe you'll be charged with resisting and get the crap beat out of you. I know first hand what Skagit county law enforcement is into. A welcoming gang stalking kinda feel to it where they brutalize folks and destroy their lives using "citizens patrols" to harass people. My HOA bought a fire truck to play fireman too! They drive it in parades too! That's politics in a homeowners association and all over 'murkah. Invisible gates

    1. PS:

      "Sixteen states have laws governing license plate readers, but most of them restrict government, not private, use. Even those efforts have come up short. In Vermont, one out of 10 license plate database searches by police broke the rules on how the system could be used, a 2018 state audit found."

      "When Flock installed 29 cameras in Dayton, Ohio, as part of a months-long trial for the police, residents were surprised and angry to see so many of them recording in the heart of the city’s Latino community — including outside a church where local immigrant families attend Mass and gather with friends."

      OK...If you weren't frightened before the cameras, you'll be terrified when they are used everywhere.

  5. I'll never forget going to public school for the first time as a Sophomore at Everett High School. Nine years of Catholic education with the same 30-35 people in my class made me giddy with the possibilities of meeting all those NEW PEOPLE! So exciting for someone quite sheltered. I was kind of astonished at how easy the curriculum was, well except Math. Nuns notoriously, were not brilliant at Math, and I struggled there but everything else was kind of a breeze. Perhaps because of reading skills, at which the Nuns were notoriously excellent, English and History were never that difficult. I consistently scored 3 or 4 years ahead of my grade level in reading and comprehension from 5th grade on.

    The good Sisters of the Holy Names were also very good a critical thinking, and teaching us little sponges how to be good at it. Maybe it was partly due to the religious education--we were always made aware we were not the most important people in the universe--wherein we were constantly taken down peg by peg in subservience to the Trinity. We were taught early, often, and always to look at not only the other side of a question/ issue, but to look at ALL sides. One of my English teachers at high school, once while reprimanding me for slipshod work said, "You're from Immaculate Conception school. You can do better than this and I expect you to do better than this." He then said, "I'm always happy when I get you Catholic school kids because you know how to learn and how to think." Said over 50 years ago, it was clearly important because it stuck with me.

    It is evident even in people not that much younger than I, that those critical thinking skills are not developed. In that, I blame my generation. We must have been so full of ourselves after "winning" freedom, equality, etc. in the 60s that we took it all for granted. There are now 3 generations suffering from our hubris. Knowledge has to be hard-fought and hard-won, as most of us here know. I'm not sure we can do anything except skip over those who have attained their 8th - 12th grade level of knowledge and will go no further.

    Anyway, I'll probably read this over later and ask Dr. Schwab to delete it! You're all very kind to let me rant occasionally.

    1. Not gonna delete it. Mainly because, as usual, it's a good read. But also because it affords the opportunity to point out the irony of religious schools teaching critical thinking.

    2. Dude, I

      You are like chicken soup vs. my meat tenderizer.

      If Drumpf has taught us anything. It's that we need a librarian in every school. Let's trade the Gang stalkers(resource officer/cop) for a librarian in every school.

      There's been a systematic destruction of not only the curriculum, but the brick and mortar as well. They were new schools when the boomers whnt through. Boomer parents threatened and perpetrated, perpetuated and largely got away with violence over school integration. It's CRT today, yesterday it was bathrooms, the day before that was more guns in schools.

      The alt right is taking over these institutions. I am seeing yard signs with a straight ticket vibe. All the alt right names listed on one sign. Legit campaign signs. Gee, ya think they all have the same person behind the curtain?

      If Dems don't vote we are done as a nation. People need to vote like their life depends on it. Because it does.

    3. (insert Kraken's first home game tonight rant, parts 1,2 and 3.)

    4. Smooth, there are librarians in every public school--well, in Everett Public Schools, anyway. And the best part about them is that they are all certificated teachers. The programs and support that happens now in public school libraries is fabulous. Not only book clubs and other literary-minded organizations, but all sorts of creative outlets. At Everett High, they have a couple guitars, an electronic keyboard, an art space, and a Maker's Space (sewing, beading, etc.). Along with three dozen computer stations, but all the kids have their own Chromebooks (district supplied). The library at EHS was always full of kids.

      And, as much as I love you, I must disagree about the Police officers on-site at the schools. I felt such a sense of safety having our officer there, along with Security guys. I never once saw them take a kid in hand, or exert power over anyone that it wasn't warranted.

    5. It has nothing to do with safety. I've seen first hand how the system can harass people. Should I be followed around on campus everywhere I go? I don't think so but I know cops and teachers and teachers aids and whomever else follow me around every time I walk on campus.

      I understand what you are saying...I just disagree. The cops can be called. They don't need to drain valuable resources sitting around and like Santa making a list.

      Naw...We only need cops when we need them. This "crime prevention" excuse is crap. It's alarmist and we are not at war in the hallways in public schools.

      I am glad my kids are out of school by next year.

      "Data available from the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) highlight the lack of support for too many of our students in thousands of schools across the country. NCES data reveals approximately 8,830 public schools across the nation do not have a school library. For those schools that do have a library, nearly 17,000 schools do not have a full or part-time state-certified school librarian on staff. Research repeatedly shows that a well-funded and fully staffed school library with a state-certified school librarian is an integral component of a student’s education. Across the United States, studies have demonstrated that students in schools with effective school library programs learn more, get better grades, and score higher on standardized tests than their peers in schools without comparable resources."

      We need all our electives back...Auto shop and metal shop and wood shop and whatever else. We'd rather put more cops on the streets and in schools especially. It's school boards, you name it. I am so glad to be out of the school system. I've just had enough like many teachers I know who are tired and burnt to a crisp. I admire those who stay. But I completely understand the ones who leave the profession.

  6. Jordon fingering the pulse on CNN!

    Y'all are highly educated voters and true 'murcahn patriots cuz' you all know all about pulse fingering by reading the docs blog and newspaper column.

    CNN however was having a tough time wrapping their heads around all this fingering. I thought the poor dudes head was gonna explode.

    Jordon Klepper: National Treasure...and the poor reporter trying to get a grip

  7. "Why So Many QAnon Believers Are Evangelical Christians"

    Hay brother Jackson, man of action, seeking knowledge, and gaining wisdom everyday.

    I thought his was interesting. And I wanted to hear your(anyone's)take on mixing religion with politics.

    35% of Americans say they are "evangelical". The premise is that religion and the alt right travel along the same tracks. Religion was chugging along and then the alt right rose up due to the same sort of sensibilities. For lack of a better short version of explaining.

    I hope everyone is hunkered down in the lowest part of the house if you have trees that'd smash your house. Don't end up under a tree in a bad way. Like that fella 5-6-7 years ago wrote in the Harold comments about almost getting killed by a falling tree. I wonder what happened to him.

  8. In my opinion, there is no greater lack of critical thinking among the MAGAfried than their admiration and worship of a man with no redeeming qualities, one who is an existential threat to much more than our democracy. The worst of them are the ones who see clearly and ignore what he is and what he's doing. But so many of them are incapable or just plain stupid.

    This was published in the London Times yesterday. This is what they cannot see, or unforgivably ignore. It nails Trump:

  9. Replay of Fahrenheit 9/11

    The alt right has gotten better at soft coups. If the alt right has their way. They will steal America. We can not do anything more than what we've been doing?


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