Opinion

It’s Critical to Understand Critical Thinking and Critical Theory

senior-woman-thinking

Originally published December, 2105

Have we reached critical mass in the sense that a staggering number of Americans cannot think critically and do not understand critical theory?

“Why is it imperative for the citizenry to be able to think critically?”, Patricia L. Dickson asked in her article Americans are Void of Critical Thinking Skills, (American Thinker, October 2015). She then answered with, “Because the mainstream media has abandoned its responsibility of reporting facts in exchange for distracting, distorting, propagandizing and protecting. The public education system also run by liberals, has dumbed down the quality of education in exchange for explicit (non-age appropriate) sex education and revised negative American history.”

Our critical thinking skills are imperative to navigate through the lies. We live in a world where we are immersed in “accepted thought”. We are often told to believe certain things just because “It is the right thing to do.” Well my question is who exactly gets to determine what I think is the right thing to do?

To find what we think is the right thing to do, it is important that we put in the effort to verify what we are being told by the media, books, television shows, movies, higher education and the “experts”. Just because a thought is put forth over and over again, that is not what makes it true. If an opinion is continually thrust upon us, that is not what should form our belief in it.

Instead of allowing ourselves to blindly succumb to the rolling waves that are intent on bringing us to a destination we may not be interested in arriving at, we must pay attention to the direction we are being lulled toward. Floating along aimlessly is not a good plan, unless you really do not care where you will end up.

Critical thinking is the steering wheel that can alter the route. Questioning and seeking answers are the engine behind our thinking. In the American Thinker article, Patricia L. Dickson suggests a miniature guide, The Art of Asking Essential Questions, by Dr. Linda Elder and Dr. Richard Paul, founders of The Critical Thinking Community, which can help in our critical thinking. One chapter, Questioning Data, Information and Experience, is especially helpful due to all of the data we are bombarded with daily to “help” us to arrive at the “correct conclusion”.

Another overlooked area that is at critical mass, is the understanding of critical theory. Andrew Breitbart, in his book Righteous Indignation (Grand Central Publishing, 2011), introduced me to the concept of critical theory, coined by a Marxist philosopher named Max Horkheimer at the Frankfurt School (a school of social theory) during the 1930s. Critical theory and Max Horkheimer found their way to the United States and American academia. What is critical theory? Andrew Breitbart describes it like this in his Chapter 6- Breakthrough, of  Righteous Indignation.

“Critical theory, says Horkheimer, is ‘suspicious of the very categories of better, useful, appropriate, productive, and valuable, as those are understood in the present order’.  So if you liked ice cream better than cake, or thought a hammer might be more useful in a particular situation, you were speaking on behalf of the status quo. The real idea behind all of this was to make society totally unworkable by making everything basically meaningless. Critical theory does not create; it only destroys, as Horkeheimer openly stated, ‘Above all…critical theory has no material accomplishments to show for itself.”

Why worry about critical theory? Because the Frankfurt School of thought was embraced by the progressives in America and it lives on today, in academia, in the media, in our culture and in our politics. If we use our critical thinking skills, I think we will recognize critical theory in practice and note the way it is being used to make so many former common sense ideas no longer make any sense. Hopefully we can spread the word that we are at critical mass when it comes to the importance of understanding critical thinking and critical theory.

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Lee
1 month ago

AgreedTRUE Critical Thinking seems to have gone by the wayside and needs to be taught. Thinking for ourselves is what made this nation great.Critical Theory is just that, a theory and a very bad one at that. It’s destructive in everyway and at all levels. It doesn’t have any place in our society and doesn’thelp ANYONE. We ALL should be standing up against it. These things only exist if we allow them to.

Ivan Berry
5 years ago

Diana, spoken like a true blue none progressive real American woman. Good show.
Using a Boolian algebra symbol (a solid line above an item indicating “not” that item) and then listing the dialetic of “good, better, best” with the line above indicating is a good pictoral explanation of critical theory . I could show you but don’t know how to overline instead of underline. Does any of this make the least bit of sense? Ok. Pretend this underline is above instead of below_______________good better best. Dern, I can’t even figure out how to to do that.
Ok. So that didn’t work. How about critical thinking. What schools have dropped and what was the basis for liberal arts education were the three required prime subjects of Grammer, Logic and Rhetoric.
Without an understanding of grammer, you could not understand logic. With those two, you could impart to others the knowledge you aquired through rhetoric. It was a simple process that no longer is used by educators who were created themselves by the system that now prevails.

Diana Erbio
5 years ago
Reply to  Ivan Berry

Ivan your Boolean Algebra reference brought me back to my computer days! I was a Computer Science major and programmer analyst for about 11 years. Sadly it seems logic has fell out of favor for too many Americans ….

As for your problem with the overscore, try this
Insert a blank line above the text and insert characters or spaces on line below :-)
___________________
Good, Better, Best

Ivan Berry
5 years ago
Reply to  Diana Erbio

________
I’ll try. Thanks.

Rik
5 years ago

Critical thinking? … You mean like:

… When Democrats became Liberals to now becoming Progressives? … I thought progressive was an adjective meaning to develop something step by step … So this means the Democratic Party by becoming Progressive seems to actually be becoming more Communist in reality by promoting universal health care, ignoring the Constitution and looking to disarm the citizenry from protecting themselves from an overreaching government?
… If President Obama, as a child, was educated as a Muslim in an Indonesian school … Wouldn’t that help explain why he can’t say anything negative about the “Religion of Peace” if he is in fact, a True Believer? … If the Koran teaches that it’s alright to “lie to infidels or unbelievers” then it makes sense that when Obama placed his hand on a Bible to swear to uphold the Constitution, He was REALLY LYING to all us infidel citizens?

… If Hillary Clinton was a follower of Saul Alinsky, the Communist radical community organizer, and did her college thesis on him … Wouldn’t that mean she is REALLY a Communist also?

… If this country has Immigration Laws already on the books, why aren’t they being enforced?

… Why does it seem that I just can’t seem to ignore these thoughts? … Our national media seems to be able to! … There must be something wrong with me?

… Oh, wait a minute, MAYBE IT’S NOT ME!

… If “Common Sense” was Common, wouldn’t we ALL have it?

Great article Diana! … Hope it’s featured in Saturday’s newsletter! … PaulE’s comments ALWAYS on base!

PaulE
5 years ago

A truly excellent, well written and exceptionally well articulated article on the growing deficit of critical thinking skills in the general population of the United States, as well as the importance of why such a loss is so detrimental to our society as a whole. We are rapidly becoming a nation of sheep, blindly accepting, much of the time without any question what so ever, the so-called “facts” (politically motivated propaganda) and opinions (designed to support the official propaganda) put forth by all the various members of the institutions you name. The systematic dumbing-down of the general population, the ongoing indoctrination process if you will, has been going on for decades now and is getting progressively (no pun intended) worse. When the population can no longer distinguish between lies and truth, true facts from well-crafted fiction designed to push an agenda, and can not even ask the appropriate questions necessary to make a correct determination, then that country and its people are lost to some form of totalitarian rule. There are many historical references to point to, both near and long term, but that is exactly why history in general is no longer seriously and honestly taught in most public schools and colleges these days.

Diana Erbio
5 years ago
Reply to  PaulE

Thank you PaulE & Rik for taking the time to read my column and for the feedback!

PaulE
5 years ago
Reply to  Diana Erbio

Your articles are one of the few reasons I even bother to read anything from AMAC at this point. Thank you for proving that there are still other people out there that understand what is fundamentally undermining the future prospects for this country.

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