As we head farther into the great Trump Cash Harvest that has already begun, we might contemplate the dwindling role of critical thinking in the US that brought us to this point. Critical thinking, the lack thereof, is behind the sheeplike mass think-less-ness of so much behavior, particularly in the US. God, look at the election!
There are probably no countries that can exceed the US in pure pride in ignorance and critical thinking. Isaac Asimov called it a “cult of ignorance”, and Carl Sagan said it was a “celebration of ignorance”. A photo of characters looking like Sunday-after-the-Saturday-night-pipe-fight claimed they like Trump because he “don’t use none of them big words”. Indeed he doesn’t. Some have rated his vocabulary at sixth grade level.
Why is this ignorance—or is it actually stupidity?—a point of pride rather than a deep shame that should make people want to stay indoors during the day? Why is the quality of these people’s thinking on the decline, particularly measured against the civilized nations?
How is it, with centuries of scientific progress behind us, that one entire political party is opposed to science? Opposed to climate change. Opposed to technology that not long ago could have saved us from now inevitable global warming. Has it not occurred to them that science explains stuff regardless of their opposition, that climate change cares not the slightest for their opinion, that the technology they apparently oppose fills every moment of their lives? Have these people never had the benefit of modern medicine? Do they not understand that the cellphone in their pocket is possible because of science research? How do they think the weather forecast is possible?
This ignorance, minus the stupid pride, is one of the main causes of individual terrorism coming from radicalized young Muslims in the West. The Daesh have learned how to exploit this ignorance to create indiscriminate murderers in the name of Islam.
Most of these people, mostly men, learn their hatred of the West by watching videos recorded by radical imams whose beliefs are more seriously outdated and false even than fundamentalist Christian preachers. These latter say the stupidest things, and make nonsense claims they say are unalterable biblical truths, but they don’t say whole segments of humanity must be murdered. The radical imams do, and these ignorant young men listen attentively. They hear no one who would tell them differently.
Unfortunately, many of these poor doomed souls don’t get an education that teaches them to think, because they attend madrases where the curriculum consists entirely of memorizing the Q’ran. No one tells them how to bring the Q’ran’s teaching into the present, or even that it’s possible.
Now, I will be the first to deny the innocence of the Western world in its relationship with Islam, but the atrocities these Daesh guys espouse are well beyond the pale. And I simply don’t understand how the intelligent and supposedly educated young Muslims of the Daesh can believe that everyone else in the world is fair game and should be murdered. Must be murdered. Because that’s basically what they believe. They even murder Muslims with slightly different beliefs. What they want doesn’t even agree with their own beliefs, not to mention that the highest Islamic scholars condemn them in no uncertain terms, and call them un-Islamic, barbaric, traitors to Islam.
The problem is that those from all parts of the spectrum fail to address the Daesh in their own mode, and so the Daesh are winning what should be a totally lost cause. The innocent naifs who become murderers for Islam don’t read scholarly articles, if they read at all. They get their info from videos of radical imams who kind of like the idea of murdering westerners. The Daesh, in spite of their barbaric practices, get their ideas across by sophisticated use of the internet and modern technology. And this is how they must be defeated.
This is not Marquis of Queensbury. What is needed is an army of hackers to chop up the Daesh sites in little pieces, crash them off the face of the planet. To plant quotes from the Q’ran to follow the radical lie. Cleverly disguised buttons to click on that lead to more reasonable sites. Sites of passionate reason. Sites that shout at the West and its exploitation and call for realistic ways to battle it, ways that don’t involve killing decent and innocent citizens.
It’s all called education, which doesn’t mean sitting at a desk in a classroom. We all get education whenever we learn something new. But we don’t learn something new if it’s not presented to us in a form that we recognize. We won’t learn if we don’t understand the vocabulary.
Wisdom is found in books, but it can be found elsewhere, even on commercial TV and the internet. In fact, the most effective mode of learning for many is the visual image, not the printed word. That being the case—and the dismal stats about the almost total lack of reading by large parts of the adult population attest to it—education has to find acceptable ways to show the benefits of thinking critically and questioning assertions and assumptions. Drama sounds good to me. Cartoons sound good to me. Songs sound good to me. Public service announcements don’t.