Archives for posts with tag: politics

What Ever Happened to Critical Thinking?

I recently have been put to a great deal of trouble based on information that someone got from a website that I hadn’t updated in over two years.  It would have taken less than five minutes to find out if the information was accurate but the person took the page as current and never bothered to follow up, even though logic would have told him that it put me in two places at the same time.

This was annoying but it also brought home to me how much we believe these days from only looking at single sources.  Part of this is, as someone explained to me, “People like to believe things that confirm their prejudices.”  If what you read does, why bother to check further?

One result of this is that people are happy to base their votes on the certainty that Mitt Romney personally hired Chinese peasants to take jobs from Americans or that Barack Obama is on the payroll of the Israeli government. (I’ve heard both of these. DON’T cite me as a source)  Which you believe depends on how you already feel about these men.  How many of us are happy to hit “share” without finding out if there is any truth in the statements?

We have always been inclined to do this.  Word of mouth has been a source of “accurate” news for thousands of years.  Advances in the means of communication has only accelerated this and not just recently.  As I say in THE REAL HISTORY OF THE TEMPLARS, King Philippe IV had broadsides read throughout France telling of the crimes that the Templars confessed to.  These were so successful that some people still believe them. 

But now anyone with internet access can find both totally unsupported gossip and also, with more work, the facts behind it.  The problem is that few people bother.  One of the things I notice most, as an historian, is the way in which myths root themselves like stinkweed and can’t be eradicated.  I know for a fact that there are people who believe everyone in the Middle Ages was five feet tall, didn’t live past thirty, thought the earth was flat, never bathed, put women in chastity belts and believed everything the pope told them. (Of course my readers are smarter than that)  All of these things have been proven many times to be false but, because so many people WANT to believe they’re true, they never bothered to find out.  Even worse, they are sure that historical and archeological reports to the contrary must be fabricated.

Why is it that so many people thought/think that the Mayans predicted the end of the world?   How many are certain that aliens have visited earth?  All rich people are heartless and greedy.  All poor people are lazy and don’t want to work.  We love thinking in generalities.  I include myself in this, but I have also been trained as an historian and that means finding more than one source to prove my assumptions.  It also means being able to accept that my first impressions and preconceptions might be wrong.

I’m posting this on both blogs and my fan page.  It covers everything.  I suppose it’s a sort of manifesto against fuzzy logic.  Along with the grammar police, I intend to submit a bill in the Senate requiring schools to emphasize analytical thinking.  I shall also establish remedial classes for anyone entering politics.  Any out-of-work historians or experimental scientists like to apply to teach them?

Agatha and I thinking analytically.Image


Vote Sharan, senator at large!!!

No agenda, I just want the pension!!


   Recently, it occurred to me that the best way to stop worrying about health insurance and retirement was to get a job where benefits are never cut.  After some research, I decided to run for Congress. Then I did a little more research and discovered that one has to serve at least five years to get a full pension.  So, I’ve amended my original plan and am running for the Senate.

I have chosen to run as a senator at large.  This means that I won’t represent any one state but the entire country.  It’s a big responsibility but I can handle it for six years.  Then I’ll resign, take the pension and let someone else have the job.  Also, as the 101st member, I can be the tie-breaker, even if it leaves the Vice-President with nothing to do.

Now, obviously, I can’t run without a platform.  I’ve asked all my “friends” on Facebook to give suggestions and added a few pet peeves of my own.  I’ll list some now, but I’m happy to hear from potential constituents about their concerns and shall update as often as possible.


Plank #1: Medicare should start at birth.

My sister, Beccy, and most health care professionals I’ve spoken to, agree with this.  Their idea, however odd it may seem to us lay people, is that if people get regular check-ups all their lives, they are less likely to develop serious conditions.  Medical experts point out that many health problems, like diabetes and high cholesterol, can stem from lifestyle choices and can be prevented if people understand from childhood which choices are best.  The diseases that occur anyway could at least be caught at an earlier stage.  This would also get rid of the debate about the mandate to make us buy health insurance and I’m really tired of the rants about that.

Plank #2: By Popular Demand…

This wasn’t high on my list but I seem to be in the minority.  Many of my respondents were passionate in their insistence that men be equal to women in reproductive issues.  Among the proposals that I can repeat were:  Any man wishing to take Viagra must prove, in public, that he needs it.  Men should then have invasive and painful exams before they get the prescriptions.  Finally, all men should be made to watch several hours of birthing room videos, complete with screams, blood and the head crowning and sign a waiver that promises they will be in attendance at the birth of any offspring.   These seem fair to me and they were some of the kinder suggestions.  Suffice to say that many women feel men have been left out far too long in the debate about ramifications of advances in reproductive medicine.


Plank #3: A New Watchdog Force: The Grammar Police

          This is my very own idea and the one I feel most strongly about.  When elected, I shall introduce a bill making it mandatory that all politicians and anyone who speaks in a public forum, like news reporters, company executives, sports commentators and, especially, talk show hosts, MUST know the difference between the nominative and objective pronoun, farther and further, between and among and be able to put an apostrophe in the correct place, in case they also need to write down what they say.

This plank struck a nerve among my friends and I have many volunteers to be local coordinators of the Grammar Police.  I propose no violent retribution, but a gentle guiding toward correct English and a ban on further speaking until the perpetrator has learned the rule.  Remember, the First Amendment guarantees the right to speak freely, not badly



Well, this is the first formal salvo in my campaign.  If you have a particular matter that you feel the Senate should take up, let me know.  And, if you want to get in line to have the seat (and the pension) after I do, well, no one has signed up yet.

Please feel free to share this link.  As Senator at Large, I represent everyone and I have no party or contributors to answer to.  Actually, I don’t need contributions, just votes.


Vote for me, please!  I could really use the Perks!