Transparency

transparency

When we know what's going on we can change it.

 

Knowledge

knowledge

The more we know, the better ideas we have.

 

Rationality

rationality

The more objective thinking we do the better decisions we make.

 

Compromise

compromise

We all live together and and depend on each other.

 

Knowledge

When anything grabs the brain's attention, it immediately searches its files and presents thoughts and reactions to the stimulus, whether it is a person, headline, a sound or even an idea. These immediate thoughts and reactions are by definition based on incomplete information and emotion. Though this applies to all animal brains, the advantage that humans have is they have a more advanced ability to hold those initial reactions in check while they gather more information and cool down the emotions - they can become rational. This is not always easy, especially if these rudimentary reactions are reinforced by repetition and social groups. Awareness of this universal primordial attribute and practice in overcoming it can make rationality more the norm.

Given our evolution so far, it is still normal to feel bias, seethe with emotion and take preliminary positions without much support. Open-mindedness,  additional information and a cooling down of emotions allows one to become rational and productive, while remaining under the control of the primordial portion of the brain is destructive to yourself and others.

“It is a narrow mind which cannot look at a subject from various points of view.” ― George Eliot

“A mind is like a parachute. It doesn't work if it is not open.” ― Frank Zappa

Eighty percent of people who are asked to draw a bike draw one that would not work as a bike; that's because we have never studied how a bike works - we just think we know. Now expand that inability to understand and draw a bike to the positions we take on more intangible societal issues. The human brain wants to think it knows things - its survival mode early on was to try to make sense of things with the least information possible. That's why we all have an opinion and jump quickly to conclusions (like the auto-correct on a phone does), even with no knowledgeable foundation at all. Exposure to further information and open-minded consideration of other facts should lead to rethinking. Your brain will resist this and try to defend its initial position unless you become aware that your brain is misleading you and you force it to actively seek, listen to and incorporate more complete information on a topic.

“Isn’t that wonderful? That feeling of not knowing too much about something… Incomplete information… Endless possibilities… When you don’t know much about something, it’s the most exciting sensation." ― Erol Ozan, Talus

A U.S. presidential candidate recently came out against a vaccination because she was told by a mother, in passing, that her child got Down's Syndrome after receiving the vaccine (medical professionals say this is hogwash). That's a scary extrapolation. Is that how we should conduct medical research, develop preventions and cures and install public policy? People do the same thing every day, because the human brain tends to remember and grasp onto the time something did happen and forget or ignore the many times it didn't. Believing anecdotal events to represent broader truths is foolish and dangerous.

"Polls are inaccurate in my opinion, based upon anecdotal evidence, based upon people that I know." ― Herman Cain

MSNBC and Fox New are NOT news programs. They are admitted platforms for espousing ideologies. They, and others, selectively report and twist information to support their preferred views. You don't need to avoid them; just see them for what they are. To be knowledgeable, a person has to be exposed to information from a wide variety of sources, gather supported facts and make informed decisions. Consider facts and consider the source.

“The best defense against partisanship is expertise.” ― Roger Angell

Education is the teaching of knowledge, skills and critical thinking. Too often it is also a way of inculcating cultural views and actions that are harmful to the person and to society. Personal preferences are not knowledge, religious beliefs should not be presented as facts, cultural habits that abuse women should not be passed on, inequality and hatred should not be presented as the norm - yet all these and more are stuffed into education systems to perpetuate self-interest rather than to help the learner become knowledgeable and skillful and able to think rationally.

“Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.” ― Margaret Mead

The scientific approach of observing, hypothesizing, testing and thinking logically can never be perfect, but it is better than just hypothesizing and stopping there or than just repeating what you've been told as fact. Science allows us to learn, apply findings to make things better and open new areas for more research. Some people misuse, miscommunicate or twist science to fit their own purposes - and scientists do make mistakes. Those are not reasons to ignore or try to refute science without any substantiation. We would still be in caves without it.

“The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.” ― Neil deGrasse Tyson

Humans are easily convinced of things without any support. This is done to us - cults, repressive regimes, anecdotes/rumors/memes, religions, controlled education, ideologues, charismatic leaders. And we do it to ourselves - emotional needs, the desire to be superior and right, tribal instincts, self-segregation, the universal search for answers. Sorry, but we are often sheep. However, there is an antidote to much of the brainwashing we fall prey to. It's knowledge. There is a reason extremists try to insulate their groups from the rest of the world, whether it is the North Korean government, Jim Jones or the Hutterites. More common organizations, such as political parties and "issue" groups also brainwash; we are just more inured to it so we don't realize it is happening to us.

They also use fear to prevent defections and promote mental acceptance. Punishments range from name-calling, to excommunication, to family shunning, to removal of financial support to confiscation of property to death. What those who brainwash fear most is unbiased education, exposure to the lives and ideas of those not brainwashed and broad knowledge. The more knowledge and understanding people have, the less easily they are brainwashed and the more they can make rational decisions. What that means is that we should promote unadulterated education, wide exposure to ideas and personal interaction between disparate people.

“I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think” ― Socrates

The nine-month school year is an anachronism left from when we were an agrarian society. It create a built-in "forgetting period" for students, creates childcare problems and is proven to retard learning and knowledge, our greatest economic resources. A year-round school calendar. with shorter periods for breaks, holidays and vacations makes more sense both for the learners and for society's social and economic interests.

“When you know better you do better.” ― Maya Angelou

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