Thursday, May 02, 2013

Is Thinking Obsolete?

Thomas Sowell is one of the finest philosophers alive today. I never miss one of his writings - own all his books, read all his columns. He is a member of the smallest and most reviled of minorities in America today - black conservatives. His column (up today) is here. I agree with him wholeheartedly.

I attended one of the finest (I believe THE finest) public high schools in the country and excelled on the debate team. One of the things that make organized debate a great preparation for organizing one's thoughts is that, after preparation, the teams are assigned sides. I found that the very best teams (my team won at state level almost every year) did better when they took the unpopular side. I am certain that I did better when I had to defend a side that I absolutely abhorred - won the state championship on the side of Hitler, and as a Jew that was a bit of a surprise. After that I attended three different universities.

This all happened in the 60s, and I can say with no doubt that the level of critical thinking at those 3 centers of "higher" learning was nowhere near what I saw in Stuyvesant. Groupthink has permeated our society, and I must agree, one more time, with Tom Sowell. Thinking has gone out of style. What we have now is tribalism, or what I call the baseball style of debate, as in, my team is better than your team, whatever your team does sucks and whatever mine does is the pinnacle of achievement. Assertion has won out over argument. I wonder if anything can be done about it.