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Friday, May 20, 2011



An Exercise in Critical Thinking, Pt II

Joe Kleine, Contributor | 02May2011

I realize you probably think I'm a 'conspiracy theorist'. I also realize you are probably not inclined to believe anything I say that smacks of a 'conspiracy theory'.

Very well.

What we should all be able to agree upon is that it is vital for a free man (or woman) to be capable of critical thinking.

What is 'critical thinking'?

First, an example of what it is not: Critical Thinking is not turning on the television, hearing a story, and saying "Hallelujah! I've heard the truth!"

For a real life example from recent news, let’s take the story about Osama bin Laden's death. Despite the fact that I have been saying the man is dead for years, it is now 'ok' and within the public perception of 'normal' to say "I believe the man is dead."

Why? Because anyone did any investigating or research into the life and death of Osama bin Laden? Because you or someone you know physically touched his lifeless corpse?

No. Because the TV told you.

A healthy amount of skepticism demands some sort of evidence, some sort of proof. Citing a news source does not equal proof. Saying 'because Fox News said so' doesn't make it any more true than if I said 'because Alex Jones said so'.

It's not just that people believe it, it's alarming how EASILY they believe it. This opinion went from 'only kooks say he's dead' to 'everyone knows he's dead' in the span of 1 hour. Just *poof* the tv said it, so it's true.

There is no journalism going on. There is nobody asking a hard question. This is a White House press release being passed to the American people from all directions, by all news sources, completely unaltered and without investigation -- literally, government propaganda -- from an administration that some 60% of the populace claim to dislike. So why does the TV's magic 'say-so' verify the truth of this propaganda without question for so many? The implications of this are both astounding and frightening.

The hard questions need to be asked. The difference between 'propaganda' and 'journalism' is the necessary process of close scrutiny of bold claims. Reading a press release verbatim is not journalism. To believe such 'news' requires implicit faith in the source (in this case, the Obama administration.) I do not have such faith.

I do not relish the thought of being portrayed as a 'conspiracy theorist' for insisting on such old-fashioned standards, but if that's the label I get slapped with, so be it.

But, I said this was about Critical Thinking, and so it is. If we want to 'think critically', how can we analyze this news, or all news?

I have devised a sort of test.

Since 9/11 we have been subjected to a whole new world of government oversight. We have had the Patriot Act, the Department of Homeland Security, and the TSA arise out of nowhere to become agents of Big Government in places where previously there were none.

This has all been done, according to the official story, 'to protect us from terrorists'.

There is always a danger of terrorism. Somebody will always dislike the
US. Are we supposed to believe then that our Founding Fathers got 'Freedom' wrong, and what they should have said was 'the government takes care of everyone. The government monitors everyone. The government watches, arrests, prosecutes, and executes. The government cannot be questioned.'

Is the breast-groping, child-molesting, nude-scanning TSA what freedom is all about? Or is it a 'necessary evil' to keep us safe from terrorism?

If it's simply a 'necessary evil' then I pose the question 'For how much longer?'

We have wiped out 2 countries, staged revolutions in foreign nations, killed 2 million people, and now by all counts Bin Laden is dead. So if all these things are temporary measures, then I challenge the government to fire Janet Napolitano, dismantle DHS, abolish the TSA, and let the Patriot Act expire. If your version of history is true, then the war is over. We won. So the wartime measures need to be done away with.

If my version of history is true, then don't do any of these things. Continue to harp on the threat that is terrorism, and insist that we need to be monitored and frisked and groped for the foreseeable future. (For our protection, of course.)

In the end, this is the true measure of motivation. If the true motivation is as benevolent as they would have us believe, when does it end? It didn't end with the ousting of the Taliban. It didn't end with the fall of
Baghdad or the execution of Saddam. If it doesn't end with the death of Osama bin Laden, then everything I've said about the true purpose of the "War on Terror" is vindicated: It is an intentionally perpetuated war used as a catalyst to seize power.

If it does end, here and now, with the death of Bin Laden, then it will prove that these measures were temporary and I will publically renounce every 'conspiracy theory' I ever endorsed.

Because you see, I'm not a conspiracy theorist... I'm a critical thinker. I have no attachment to any particular 'theory' nor do I even want my allegations against the
US government to be true. I would by far prefer to be wrong about these things. Unfortunately, the reality of life does not match the propaganda spewing forth from my television set.

As an exercise in critical thinking, I would like everyone to begin questioning the TV. Who writes the news? Where does it come from? Why should I believe you over anyone else's version? What is your agenda for telling me these things?

Begin to develop a broader scope of thought. If people questioned Fox and CNN's version of things with half the intensity they question mine, the world would be a better place already.

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