Sunday, November 16, 2008

Why Critical Thinking?

I have not posted here since well before the election, and now we have a new president, one who speaks frankly and humanely, who apparently favors the "reality-based" approach to life. We teetered for a while on the possibility of having new leaders who exhibited their poor thinking skills in myriad ways.

Dick Cavett, long-time laser-like observer of the human condition, continues to marvel at the bizarre and disturbing following acquired by the defeated Republican candidate for vice-president. His articles on the subject draw flocks of commentors, some simply thanking Cavett for his wit and insight, others offering answers to his requests for help deciphering the inexplicable appeal of the woman. As one might expect, his readers in many cases write almost as articulately as he does and their answers sometimes come from unexpected angles.

The article on the NY Times website sports 15, count 'em, 15 pages of comments--all posted in a single day! Two of these, I think, will suffice here. Joel writes:

Her supporters love Mrs. Palin for advertising her mediocrity as a virtue. That perspective allows them to dismiss nuance, complexity and tolerance as partisan tactics.

And Richard observes:
Palin’s patter derives from her most extensive area of training: teen beauty pagent contestant.

A contestant is given 90 seconds to respond to a panel’s question. She prepares (is more likely is prepped) by assembling stock answers for rapid delivery.
Stock answers are crammed with words and concepts designed to overwhelm the questioners. As the latter are not a PhD panel, the range of acceptable and even “impressive” blurted replies is large.

Palin is captive of that speaking style. It would require psychoanalysis to shift her away from going into overdrive when questioned on a subject of any complexity.

Completely different in their perspective, but incisive in their application. We could use more critical thinkers like THAT in the government. Let's go find more graduates of the schools that produced THEM.

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