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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Critical Thinking Is MIA

Malcolm Gladwell's book, "Blink, The Power of Thinking without Thinking", discusses the value of making instant decisions over the method of pain-staking, logical analysis. An antidote to this view is "Think: Why Crucial Decisions Can’t Be Made in the Blink of an Eye" by Michael R. LeGault. In an interview with Frontpage, Legault says:

I’ve always been intrigued by the way people think in a social sense, how they solve problems in everyday life; why some people make better decisions than other people. Since our decisions are based on our thoughts, it seemed clear that it is the way we think that ultimately determines the type of society we live in—-the United States, France or Nigeria. Thought preempts social and cultural conventions, government, even law. If we rank thought on a scale ranging from objective (that is rooted in sense experience and reason) on one end and subjective (founded on emotion and ideals) on the other end, we see that all advanced societies and civilizations have been objective—from classical Greece to the British empire.

From opposition to sound economic policy (see Sowell on the liberal "thinking" on tax cuts) to debating against capital punishment or gun control to fighting terrorism, we are seing very little critical thought in America from the Left. Knee-jerk reactions to proposals joined by volume and rudeness tend to be the norm of current debate. Just like personal decisions regarding whom we marry, what we buy or what we do about our employment are better made after thoughtful reflection, so does our macro policy improve with deliberation. But such takes work, challenge to dogma that we may have invested years in believing and losing our emotional cocoons. However, it makes us mature and more productive.

Legault sees the fallacy of the knee-jerk to the deliberative in the Harvard-Summers controversy. He states:

In Think I argue that political correctness, because it is based on an advanced form of lying, actually works against the ends it hopes to achieve. When Harvard president Larry Summers is rebuked and professionally censored for proposing (as many, many years of testing suggest) that innate, gender-related cognitive tendencies and abilities account for the dominance of men in sciences and math, it largely hurts the cause of recruiting more women into the sciences. How can you work toward a specific end if you can’t openly discuss the facts?

Look at the current arguments for raising minimum wages. rarely does it recognize or counter the empirical proof of the harm done to minority and teen hiring, macro employment numbers, small business creation and business migration. The downside of ignoring the empirical or, per Legault, thinking, is to hinder development for the people minimum wage proponents claim they wish to help.

As George Harrison wrote: "Try thinking more if just for your own sake".

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