Training 4/21/23

Thoughts with Richard Bleil

Yesterday,  as of the writing of this post, I met a very good friend of mine for lunch.  During the conversation, I said, paraphrasing yet another friend who posted it online, that the more access our society seems to have to information, the less intelligent we seem to be.  She made replied with an insight so keen that I am writing about it today.

“We’re being trained to not want to think for ourselves.  Instead, we seek to have answers given to us.”

Holy cow.  This is such a great insight.  In the scientific method, once the question has been formulated, the next step is a library search to see if the answer has already been answered.  Back in the ‘80’s, this was an arduous and challenging task involving “Chemical Abstracts”.  These were a series of books published every year, often twenty or so volumes large.  You always looked in the final volume first, with a kind of keyword search.  Because of the nature of my research, I had to choose multiple keywords as I was looking up concepts, but if you wanted to learn how to make, say, N,N Dipropanalamine, then you would simply look up the compound.  Once found in the index, there were a series of numbers that led you to the abstracts of papers on your topic in the remaining volumes.  But you weren’t done, because then you had to repeat the process for every single year in the abstracts that the library had. 

Today, it’s much easier.  You simply do an online search (or even easier, ask your home device instead) for the topic you want, and bam, you get a plethora of items from the internet.  You click the article you want, and read your answer.  Unfortunately, as easy as it is to find answers on the internet, it’s just about as easy to put answers on it, whether or not those answers are accurate. 

For this article, the only challenge, really, is writing it.  Then I’ll take it to one of my paid-for sites to do a quick grammar check, and then to a second where I will schedule for it to be published at 6 AM on April 21.  It won’t rise to the top of any search engines, but in principle, it could.  Personally, I try to give my honest opinion, and any “facts” I proved are, to the best of my knowledge, accurate.  But not everybody online has my ethics.  People trying to sell health products, whether or not they have been tested, will tell you that their products are the best, and they’re only trying to help you break free of pharma, for example.

Perhaps the best example from current headlines is a certain “news” organization currently in court over providing false information to the viewers.  While people often quote this news organization as an alternative to “main stream” news outlets, it is, in fact, the most widely watched news program in the world making it “main stream”, and others the alternative.  In the previous presidential election, this news program told its viewers, and readers online, of “evidence” of stolen votes by an automated voting system currently suing them, and that the candidate the lost actually won (by a landslide).  Evidence has come out that during this period, the big names behind the news were communicating with one another that they know they were spouting lies, lies that they were actually tired of, and yet they still publicized them.  As more information comes out, it’s now clear that they even hid the role of the owner of the news station to try to shield him from lawsuits.  And yet, as this information becomes publicly available, an entire section of our society (that I estimate to be about a third) still follow that news program, and still believe the original lies that they knowingly told.

This confuses me immensely.  These people don’t want to know the truth, and don’t want to think for themselves, asking simple questions of the likelihood that only their station and its affiliates are reporting false news from other huge stations.  If it were proven that any major news organization knowingly reported a false report, the other news organizations would hungrily expose it for ratings and position in the news empire.

But we’re trained to not to want to think for ourselves.  This is why DeSantis has taken over a liberal college, with a mission to promote independent critical thinking, to convert it into a conservative and intolerant institution instead.  It’s easier to believe what you are told than to think for yourself.  So as we are trained to hear or find simple answers, we’re failing to look for multiple sources of information, and to think critically about what we have found, and many people repeat this false information and lies truly believing that they know the truth because it’s what they have been told. 


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