It is very difficult to be productive and efficient in a world where untruths and attitudinal errors are pervasive. We live in such a world and we must develop the skills to overcome the defects.
You begin with critical thinking. The cues to use it are:
- Something looks too good, or too bad,
- The person promoting the idea has a personal advantage to have me believe, and cannot explain my advantage,
- I know there is other information that is not being presented,
- The presenter repeats talking points when questioned,
- There is an attitude of you must accept this because everyone says it is so
There are more but these will suffice for argument purpose.
The problem arises with the idea of equality and democracy. People can easily get the idea that these are all governing and all pervasive. Common sense loudly proclaims that we are not equal in all matters. Equal opportunity given skills and attitude makes sense. Equal outcome with someone with higher skills or better work ethic or more helpers does not.
Isaac Asimov, wrote or edited more than 500 books, the only author with a book in every classification of the Dewey decimal system says it like this.
Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” Newsweek, 21 January 1980
When you see that you have to wonder how we got here.
Ignorance is not valuable. Sloth is not the equal of work. Bad or poorly developed ideas are not the equal of good ones. Easy and hard are different. Entitlement relies on the goodwill of others.
We are not promised an easy life, but many people substitute rhetoric or bullying for effort and intellectual search. Objective reality has become a variable that depends on the persuasive power of politicians and others with an interest.
We waste billions on “shiny objects’ that present well. Some implicitly believe that the wasted resources will not matter. As the use of those resources escalates, it is unlikely that they will be unmissed. There is some evidence that the earth is cooling not heating. Plants like heat and carbon dioxide. We eat a lot of plants and would miss them. Suppose the “settled science” is wrong as it has been every other time people claimed to have found it. Will the wasted money reappear? Probably not.
Watch politicians living in a theoretical world spend practical money on social programs that add to the problem. Listen to people argue the government should fix something or other. Watch for get rich quick. Watch for people who focus on a single facet of a complicated problem.
Learn about meaning. Ask, “what then?”
Seek good information or at least assess information that contradicts the accepted beliefs. Be open-minded. You will be forced to learn how to sort information into hype, rhetoric, possible fact and fact piles. You will likely need to learn how to think differently. You may even become cynical about the honesty and goodwill of our fellows. That is okay too.
For now cynicism is a decent defense. As Lily Tomlin has said,
“No matter how cynical you become, you cannot keep up.”
Prepare defenses based on fact based techniques, and their durability. Debt-free is an example. So is saving.
Don Shaughnessy arranges life insurance for people who understand the value of a life insured estate. He can be reached at The Protectors Group, a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency in Peterborough, Ontario. In previous careers, he has been a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business.
Please be in touch if I can help you. firstname.lastname@example.org 866-285-7772