Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. They Tell Us How We’re Supposed to Think

 

“It really bugs me that someone will tell me, after I spent 20 years being educated, how I’m supposed to think.” — Clarence Thomas

It’s fascinating when you think about it: people on the Left who are supposed to be enlightened, idealistic, educated, and compassionate, especially those in leadership positions, are some of the most naïve, unrealistic, foolish, and bigoted people in society.

Clarence Thomas points out the irony: he is indeed a well-educated man, but he used his knowledge and his wisdom to look outside the narrow limits of his early perspectives, and sought to understand the truths of this country and the world-at-large.

Education is wasted on people who don’t genuinely want to learn; they use the “piece of paper” as a badge of honor to demand respect from those people they see as evil, stupid, and uncaring. But education is meant to stretch us beyond our usual limits; it calls on us to seek a variety of perspectives on morality, truth, governance, science, math, religion, and history. Education demands that we not rest easy on our laurels, but that we go beyond them to understand our own roles in the world, how we can serve our neighbors and our country, and how we can appreciate that which is true and beautiful.

But the academics of the Left don’t care about truth and beauty. They see the world through a distorted, angry lens. They lack curiosity. Their focus is not on learning and growing, but on gaining and maintaining power.

And they are certain that they know what’s best for all of us.

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  1. Stad Thatcher

    Susan Quinn: But the academics of the Left don’t care about truth and beauty.

    Not to sound like a broken record – which makes me sound like a broken record – but The Fountainhead addresses your statement above. Besides, not many people these days know what a record is.

    Anyway, the destruction of truth and beauty is a major theme in Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. The elevation of the mediocre over the beautiful is necessary to bring the masses to heel when forming the collective. You can skip the whole novel and read the two main speeches, the first by Toohey (antagonist and collectivist) and the second by Roark (architect and protagonist).

    • #1
    • May 26, 2020, at 7:49 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  2. RightAngles Member

    In addition to thinking they know what’s best for people, they think they can shame others into agreement. Black voters who think outside the party line are Uncle Toms. Sellouts. Anyone of any color who questions the “Climate Change” dogma is a “denier.” Anyone who supports Trump is an inbred yahoo with an 8th-grade education. Gun control laws are “common sense.” If you don’t think it’s a good idea to expose 7-year-olds to drag queens or the concept of homosexuality, you are a homophobic bigot. If you call the Wuhan Flu what it is, you’re a racist.

    Don’t want to be an Uncle Tom denier inbred yahoo homophobe bigot racist? All you have to do is shut up and vote Democrat.

    • #2
    • May 26, 2020, at 7:49 AM PDT
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  3. Stad Thatcher

    RightAngles (View Comment):
    Don’t want to be an Uncle Tom denier inbred yahoo homophobe bigot racist?

    I actually kinda like it. But you left out “gun totin’ redneck” . . .

    • #3
    • May 26, 2020, at 7:51 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  4. OmegaPaladin Moderator

    What’s worse is when they tell people who are legit experts in an area how to think about that area. You want to lecture Clarence Thomas on the law and justice? Really? I suppose you want to give Kanye West tips on music and Michael Jordan tips on basketball?

    Obviously, expertise in one area does not apply outside that area, and experts can make mistakes, but have a little humility when dealing with someone with clear accomplishments.

    • #4
    • May 26, 2020, at 7:51 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    RightAngles (View Comment):
    Don’t want to be an Uncle Tom denier inbred yahoo homophobe bigot racist? All you have to do is shut up and vote Democrat.

    Thanks, @rightangles. And you’ve barely shown the tip of the iceberg. The Left never seems to run out of ways to insult or try to intimidate us. Although they often use the same labels over and over again. Much less work that way.

    • #5
    • May 26, 2020, at 8:06 AM PDT
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  6. Hoyacon Member

    Their focus is not on learning and growing, but on gaining and maintaining power.

    Let’s also not forget the extent to which this applies to so-called journalists. I’m not sure if anyone posted on this, but it came through loud and clear on the flap over Kayleigh McEnany’s recent interaction with the White House press. Even Chris Wallace and Jonah Goldberg had a fine time slamming McEnany’s comments–Hey, it’s our job to ask the questions and dictate the agenda. How dare you tell us our job.!

    • #6
    • May 26, 2020, at 8:09 AM PDT
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  7. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Hoyacon (View Comment):
    Let’s also not forget the extent to which this applies to so-called journalists.

    When I say left, that almost always includes journalists, @hoyacon! Yeah, I’d want to tell those “journalists” that they are welcome to ask questions, but how about asking legitimate questions for a change, instead of nonsense or gotcha questions?? Isn’t that your job?

    • #7
    • May 26, 2020, at 8:14 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  8. Richard Fulmer Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    RightAngles (View Comment):
    Don’t want to be an Uncle Tom denier inbred yahoo homophobe bigot racist? All you have to do is shut up and vote Democrat.

    Thanks, @rightangles. And you’ve barely shown the tip of the iceberg. The Left never seems to run out of way to insult or try to intimidate us. Although they often use the same labels over and over again. Much less work that way.

    Dealing with the labels placed on “categories” of people rather than with individuals or with their arguments or beliefs shields us from the necessity of thinking. If you say something with which I disagree, I can either:

    1. Research the question, do some hard thinking, and develop a reasoned and fact-based response
    2. Apply a label to you based on your race, sex, place-of-birth, creed, or fill-in-the-blank and attack the label

    Option 1 is hard and runs the danger that I might discover I’m wrong. Option 2 is easy, preserves my preconceptions, and maintains my status within my tribe.

    • #8
    • May 26, 2020, at 8:19 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  9. Arahant Member

    This is the Quote of the Day. If you have a quotation you’d like to share, we still have eighteen openings in June. It’s a fun way to start a conversation based on another person’s wisdom. Come sign up today.

    • #9
    • May 26, 2020, at 8:48 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  10. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    I’ve been inspired by Justice Thomas, and am a great admirer of his, but I am not fond of this quote.

    I find the situation to be much more complicated than indicated here. The quote itself suggests that one should be offended by the idea that anyone else would tell you how you’re supposed to think. But if you’re wrong about something, this is precisely what you need to know.

    There is an ambiguity in the term “how to think,” because it is not clear whether it refers to the content of the thought, or the process. One should be taught to think logically, and one should be taught facts that are true. Ideally, these two will work together, as in the sciences. The sciences teach a methodology, and teach the facts that have been determined by that methodology.

    This works less well with issues of morality, law, or politics, for an obvious reason. You can test a scientific theory against reality. You cannot test a moral (or legal or political) theory against reality in the same way, with an experiment that will either prove or disprove it.

    On issues of morality, law, and politics — and religion too — I think that proper analysis leads to support of a certain system. I have never seen anyone do a remotely plausible job of deriving an entire moral or ethical code from first principles. I think that the world is just too complicated to allow anyone to develop a perfect, systematic rule book, all logical and derived from first principles. Even the idea of relying on first principles is difficult, because such principles will often conflict, and then what do you do?

    Therefore, on issues of morality, law, politics, or religion, I find that you must be taught a system, and that within that system some truths cannot be challenged. Such truths must be treated as self-evident, and this necessarily divides the world into two camps — those who accept such self-evident truths, and those who do not. No such system will be able to withstand endless deconstruction.

    Many academics and leading thinkers of the current age, probably best called the Post-Modern Age, have adopted such deconstruction as their methodology. They think that they are applying reason, and they are. They think that reason is a light. I think it is more like an acid. It can be useful as a cleaning agent, but if you use too much of it, you end up with a blob of goo.

    They think that they are clever and learned. I find them reminiscent of that stage in a child’s development when the little tyke just keeps asking “why” in response to every statement.

    [Cont’d]

    • #10
    • May 26, 2020, at 12:08 PM PDT
    • Like
  11. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    This leads back to the problem, and my objection to the quote. Are we to reject anyone who wants to teach us either how to think (methodologically) or what to think (substantively)? If we do so, we can never learn. On the other hand, are we to be open to every new idea, regardless of whether it undermines the truths in which we believe? If we do so, we believe in nothing.

    This leads to what I see as a contradiction in the OP. On the one hand, it rests upon a quote that essentially says: “I know what I need to know and I’m not listening to anyone who tells me otherwise.” This is actually quite a proper perspective, if you’re right about something.

    But then there’s the rest of the OP, about “look[ing] outside the narrow limits” of our “early perspectives” and the supposed need to “seek a variety of perspectives.” Which is also quite a proper perspective, if you’re wrong about something.

    This doesn’t seem to be leading to an answer. It leads to a contradiction — something like “be firm in your beliefs but also be open minded to other beliefs.” Which sounds like something Shakespeare would have Polonius say.

    • #11
    • May 26, 2020, at 12:08 PM PDT
    • Like
  12. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    As you are sometimes wont to do, Jerry, you have taken a brief quote and distorted it so that it fits your own narrative. So let me show you another way to look at it. Of course, I’m not trying to force you into thinking a certain way! I just wonder how much wisdom you can cram into a one-sentence quote; or maybe you think we shouldn’t comment on short quotes. I am assuming that Justice Thomas is referring to the Left insisting that everyone should think the way they do; but then, I’m assuming . . . Anyway, here goes:

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    I find the situation to be much more complicated than indicated here. The quote itself suggests that one should be offended by the idea that anyone else would tell you how you’re supposed to think. But if you’re wrong about something, this is precisely what you need to know.

    I would be offended if someone told me how I should think. I might be open to sharing ideas with an individual, but if they think that I am supposed to think as they do, they are simply wrong. Also, is the other person challenging me because they don’t like my position, or because that person factually thinks I’m wrong? People on the Left think those are the same. And finally, just because they think I should know something doesn’t mean I have to be interested; the attitude with which a person challenges me will determine my response.

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    There is an ambiguity in the term “how to think,” because it is not clear whether it refers to the content of the thought, or the process. One should be taught to think logically, and one should be taught facts that are true. Ideally, these two will work together, as in the sciences. The sciences teach a methodology, and teach the facts that have been determined by that methodology.

    Seriously, Jerry, do think that this was Justice Thomas was speaking about? He was speaking for himself, and it could mean the thought or the process or both. Sometimes it’s good not to think logically, but instead to think outside the box, to be creative. Logic may not have a place in the inspired setting.

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    On issues of morality, law, and politics — and religion too — I think that proper analysis leads to support of a certain system. I have never seen anyone do a remotely plausible job of deriving an entire moral or ethical code from first principles. I think that the world is just too complicated to allow anyone to develop a perfect, systematic rule book, all logical and derived from first principles. Even the idea of relying on first principles is difficult, because such principles will often conflict, and then what do you do?

    This is quite a leap from what Justice Thomas said. Again, the man says nothing about creating a system from whole cloth, never mind an entire ethical system; he is a religious man himself. I would be the first person to say that beginning with a religious system that’s already established has great benefit and merit.

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    Many academics and leading thinkers of the current age, probably best called the Post-Modern Age, have adopted such deconstruction as their methodology. They think that they are applying reason, and they are. They think that reason is a light. I think it is more like an acid. It can be useful as a cleaning agent, but if you use too much of it, you end up with a blob of goo.

    Interesting. First you laud the benefits of logic; then you discredit reason. Still I agree that reason can be abused.

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    They think that they are clever and learned. I find them reminiscent of that stage in a child’s development when the little tyke just keeps asking “why” in response to every statement.

    Gee. We agree.

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    This leads back to the problem, and my objection to the quote. Are we to reject anyone who wants to teach us either how to think (methodologically) or what to think (substantively)? If we do so, we can never learn. On the other hand, are we to be open to every new idea, regardless of whether it undermines the truths in which we believe? If we do so, we believe in nothing.

    Justice Thomas didn’t say we should reject anyone or everyone. But (and I agree) I will reject anyone whose ideas I choose to reject. I am interested in establishing the credibility, knowledge, understanding and depth that an individual has, especially on the deepest topics. A person can be shallow or a hack, and I can choose not to consult with him or her. I think you already know that I am open to learning, and I know lots of people who are (although they’re not on the Left).

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    This doesn’t seem to be leading to an answer. It leads to a contradiction — something like “be firm in your beliefs but also be open minded to other beliefs.”

    It’s called paradox, Jerry.

    • #12
    • May 26, 2020, at 12:38 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  13. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    Many academics and leading thinkers of the current age, probably best called the Post-Modern Age, have adopted such deconstruction as their methodology. They think that they are applying reason, and they are. They think that reason is a light. I think it is more like an acid. It can be useful as a cleaning agent, but if you use too much of it, you end up with a blob of goo.

    Interesting. First you laud the benefits of logic; then you discredit reason. Still I agree that reason can be abused.

    Another paradox, I guess.

    I do discredit reason, in a sense. I don’t think that reason can tell you what to value. I do believe that there exists an internally consistent system of belief, which will have an internal logic. There may be more than one such system.

    I may have read too much into the quote. You are certainly correct that I have a tendency to do so, probably an annoying tendency. The quote reminded me of something that Peter Hitchens said, in criticizing the British education system — something like “people are taught what to think instead of being taught how to think.” I understood his point, but my internal response was that students should be taught both what to think and how to think.

    I think that traditional American ideology, which I call “conservatism” for lack of a better word, was undermined by the onslaught of a Leftist wave that initially objected to teaching students what to think. Once the Leftist view prevailed, it did the same thing, creating an educational system that is largely a propaganda mill designed to indoctrinate the children into what they should think. But even my language here is unfair, because any educational system needs to teach students what to think, which becomes “propaganda” and “indoctrination” if I don’t like what they are thinking.

    I do think that the modern Leftist world view is internally inconsistent, which might explain why the educational institutions don’t do a good job of teaching people how to think.

    In my more depressing moments, I consider the possibility that the proportion of people capable of careful, logical, and rational thought, on difficult topics, may be quite small. But that’s a whole new rabbit hole, and I’ve already led this thread down one.

    • #13
    • May 26, 2020, at 1:16 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  14. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    Many academics and leading thinkers of the current age, probably best called the Post-Modern Age, have adopted such deconstruction as their methodology. They think that they are applying reason, and they are. They think that reason is a light. I think it is more like an acid. It can be useful as a cleaning agent, but if you use too much of it, you end up with a blob of goo.

    Interesting. First you laud the benefits of logic; then you discredit reason. Still I agree that reason can be abused.

    Another paradox, I guess.

    I do discredit reason, in a sense. I don’t think that reason can tell you what to value. I do believe that there exists an internally consistent system of belief, which will have an internal logic. There may be more than one such system.

    I may have read too much into the quote. You are certainly correct that I have a tendency to do so, probably an annoying tendency. The quote reminded me of something that Peter Hitchens said, in criticizing the British education system — something like “people are taught what to think instead of being taught how to think.” I understood his point, but my internal response was that students should be taught both what to think and how to think.

    I think that traditional American ideology, which I call “conservatism” for lack of a better word, was undermined by the onslaught of a Leftist wave that initially objected to teaching students what to think. Once the Leftist view prevailed, it did the same thing, creating an educational system that is largely a propaganda mill designed to indoctrinate the children into what they should think. But even my language here is unfair, because any educational system needs to teach students what to think, which becomes “propaganda” and “indoctrination” if I don’t like what they are thinking.

    I do think that the modern Leftist world view is internally inconsistent, which might explain why the educational institutions don’t do a good job of teaching people how to think.

    In my more depressing moments, I consider the possibility that the proportion of people capable of careful, logical, and rational thought, on difficult topics, may be quite small. But that’s a whole new rabbit hole, and I’ve already led this thread down one.

    Thanks, Jerry. We’re actually on the same page on most, if not all of these issues. That’s often where we end up; I am always glad when that happens. ;-). Sometimes I just wish I didn’t have to work so hard! Then again, you make me think through my ideas.

    • #14
    • May 26, 2020, at 3:19 PM PDT
    • Like
  15. RightAngles Member

    • #15
    • May 26, 2020, at 3:42 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  16. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The Justice Thomas quote could use a little more context. I don’t believe he was saying what some people take from that short quotation. In my opinion, Justice Thomas is one of the most clear-thinking, insightful people in public life today. He is an inspiration.

    • #16
    • May 26, 2020, at 3:51 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  17. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    The Justice Thomas quote could use a little more context. I don’t believe he was saying what some people take from that short quotation. In my opinion, Justice Thomas is one of the most clear-thinking, insightful people in public life today. He is an inspiration.

    I’ve gone to several sites where the quote is used, and they only quote the one sentence without its source. I obviously have no problem with it; I think it can apply to many situations, and have suggested one way to understand it. If anyone would like to offer another interpretation, please do.

    • #17
    • May 26, 2020, at 4:28 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  18. MiMac Thatcher

    It’s not that they don’t care about truth & beauty – it’s that they don’t believe they exist at all- a big difference. To the left, Truth & beauty are just expressions of power. 

    • #18
    • May 27, 2020, at 5:21 AM PDT
    • 3 likes