20 Feb Special Episode: The NY Times & Critical Thinking…🤔
Special Saturday broadcast. 🛰️ On Thursday, the NY Times published an op-ed about critical thinking and internet disinformation. In this special episode, I discuss my thoughts.
✔️ Con artists, grifters, liars, manipulators, etc., have ALWAYS existed and they always will. I hate to be the bearer of bad news on that.
✔️ In September of 2020, I recorded an episode called “Self-Sufficiency & Critical Thinking.” I realize now that episode was more prescient than I thought before. You should not outsource your critical thinking to someone else!
✔️ Catfishing schemes are an excellent example here. If someone connects with you Facebook claiming to be a prince trapped in a bunker and he says he’s in love with you and needs $1000 to be released, does that seem rational?
✔️ More critical thinking not less is what we need. We also need to be taking breaks from all the digital vomit in the world. Pet your dog. Walk in the woods. Meditate. Don’t stay attached to a screen 24/7.
Need more? Email me: https://causeyconsultingllc.com/contact-causey/
Transcription by Otter.ai. Please forgive any typos!
So today’s broadcast is a special episode. It’s impromptu, it’s off the cuff, no theme music and none of the normal planning and organizing that I typically put into an episode, it really is just me sitting here talking because I felt the need to record this episode quickly and get it out quickly. I’m a little behind on my normal reading, because I was just busy this week with projects and consulting related work. A couple of days ago, there was an op ed published in the New York Times is making quite a splash in the title of it is don’t go down the rabbit hole, and the little byline blurb beneath it says critical thinking, as we’re taught to do, it isn’t helping in the fight against misinformation. And I read that, and I found it very interesting because in my mind, critical thinking is more important now than perhaps it ever has been. You may remember if you’re a frequent tuner of this podcast, that back in September of last year, I recorded an episode called self sufficiency and critical thinking. And really the impetus behind that was simply to say, nowadays, you can outsource almost anything. But you cannot, and should not outsource your own critical thinking, who fact checks the fact checkers, who decides what person or group of people gets to be Lord and Master of what’s true and what’s false. You need to be making those decisions for yourself. You need to be able to question what you read, hunt down the source, mulling around in your own mind and use your own judgment to be able to ascertain like, Am I being lied to here? Is somebody pushing an agenda? How does this hit my gut instinct. And it scares me to think that we’re sliding down this slope of like, Well, you can’t trust your own brain. You can’t trust your own judgment. You need to let other people or some type of artificial intelligence program do that for you. Your brain has been so marinated in misinformation and fake news and Bs nonsense that your brain is just not trustworthy anymore. You can’t think for yourself you need you need somebody else to do that for you, you know, and then they pat you on the head and give you a cookie as you’ve got droll, slowly, slowly running down the side of your mouth like somebody in an asylum. And I want to fight against that as much as I can. Because there have always been con artists grifters, liars manipulators, people that want to sell you a false bill of goods or some snake oil, they want to make sure they separate you from your money. Or maybe they are a cult leader, maybe they want to, like damage your sense of freewill and manipulate you into following them and doing whatever they command you to do. Those people have always existed, and they’re not going away. Now, surely, the argument can be made that those people can cast a wider net. And they might not have to work as hard to find their next scam victim because of the internet. Because of technology, they’re able to get their message out faster and to a much wider audience than back in the olden times when they didn’t have the internet. But yet, those slimy con artists have always found a way to find their next mark, find their next victim and keep their cons going, whether there was an internet or a telephone system, or an electrical grid or whatever, those people always figured out the way to lie and cheat and manipulate other people. It’s been that way since the beginning of time. And unfortunately, those folks are not going to go away. You know, I’m thinking of like, the times when Dr. Phil has done those cat fishing expos as, like, a lot of them follow the same format, the same pattern. They tell the people the same kind of lies, and you know, weird cock and bull stories where it’s like, I’ve got $10 million that’s being held in customs or my grandpa died and left me his 100 million dollar fortune, but there’s corrupt people in the government keeping it from me. So they need to bilk these poor people out of all this money. They tell them they’re in love. You’re my sweetie, you’re my honey, as soon as I get to America will be married. I’m gonna love you forever. You’re my wife, you’re my husband, even though they’ve not been legally married. They start using those terms. And it’s like they do the same shtick over and over and over again to these people. The answer to that is not less critical thinking, you know, and very typically, Dr. Phil will tell them if you just scratch a little bit beneath the surface here and you start looking at the things they’re telling you. If you did even a small scintilla of investigation, you would see that what they’re telling you isn’t true. They’re not who they say they are. their money is not held up in customs, the documents they’re sending you have obviously been forged. Like, you don’t have to be a genius level rocket scientists or a professional private investigator with years of experience to determine they’re not telling you the truth. So in my mind, it’s not less critical thinking, less questioning of authority that’s needed. It’s more, not less. In the op ed, the author quotes a professor who says the goal of disinformation is to capture attention and critical thinking is deep attention. On the surface, that’s a damn good argument. Because we do live in a time when attention is the ultimate currency. Think about how many times you’ve been on Facebook or Instagram, and you’re just scrolling. You’re just almost like mindlessly like some sort of robot just scrolling, just scrolling, just scrolling. And you know, you see him funny meme Finally, that catches your attention or you see an ad for something you’ve thought about buying and it gets your attention. I get it. Attention is super important currency right now. Just getting somebody to stop long enough to hear what you’re saying or to read your post is is really meaningful. So ostensibly on the surface, it makes sense for somebody to say grifters con artists propagandists, they’re trying to get your attention and the longer that you sit there and go down this rabbit hole from from one theory to another to another to another beat boo boo boo bop. The next thing you know you’re going to have gone into the the layer of perversion. The layer of corruption is this evil, nasty place where all you’re going to see is lies and hate speech and just terrible things that you would wish that you had never put in your brain in the first place. He goes on in the article to say the natural human mindset is a liability in an attention economy. It allows grifters conspiracy theorists trolls and savvy attention hijackers to take advantage of us and steal our focus. Again, I would respectfully say the answer to that is more critical thinking more questioning of authority, more willingness to really step back and evaluate what you’re reading. It’s the answer to the question that to the to the to the situation here is not to just simply turn off your brain and outsource your critical thinking to someone else. Nor is it censorship. Because the thing is people that want to do hate speech, people that want to put out lies and false information, they’re always gonna freaking find a way to do it. Those people again, just like the con artists and the grifters, the lonely hearts, schemers that prey upon, you know, elderly widows and such, those scumbags have always been around, pushing them further and further and further underground thinking maybe they’ll change their ways, maybe they’ll go away, maybe nobody will give them an audience anymore. It’s just simply not going to happen that some utopian fantasy that doesn’t exist in this reality. And again, I will say the answer to the situation there is not to to critically think less, it’s to critically think more and to make sure that your mind is laser sharp, and you’re willing to always stand back and ask, is the person telling me this pushing an agenda? are they selling something? Are they promoting a certain mindset? Are they promoting a particular political ideology or religious affiliation? what’s actually going on? To go back to the cat fishing example or the lonely hearts scam? Someone that you just connected with? Out of nowhere on Facebook, they sent you a friend request and after two days of being connected with you, they’re telling you that they love you. They can’t live without you. They’ve never met someone like you before, even though they haven’t met you. They’ve just connected with you on Facebook. Does that seem rational? Does that seem logical? Does that seem like the way that relationships typically play out? Is it normal for two human beings who’ve never even seen each other face to face to be madly, passionately, violently in love with each other after two days of being friends on Facebook? Again, the answer to that situation is not to turn off your brain but to really pick the situation apart and go. Does this even seem normal? Does it seem like a Nigerian prince with millions of dollars that’s being held hostage in a bunker somewhere is going to find me on Facebook and want me to send him $1,000 and American cash bucks to try to help him out and tell me that I’m his princess and he loves me forever? Does that does that seem like something that would be valid? So what’s to be done about internet grifters, liars conspiracy theorists people that are vying for that attention that they’re talking about in the article. What What do you Due to keep some propaganda lie from getting into your mind and festering there and taking root, probably not going to be very surprised by what I’m about to tell you. The answer to that is more critical thinking, not less, it’s not turning off your brain. Maybe turn off the internet sometime, go get away from the what I call the digital vomit, the TV and your, your smartphone and your laptop and your tablets and all that go out in nature. It is amazing how much clearer your thought process is, after you’ve had a break from all that. Remember good old fashioned books. You know, even if you’re reading them on a screen now if you’re if you’re doing it through Kindle, like remembering good old fashioned book, you know, curl up with a book, go out and have a walk in the woods, go outside, get some fresh air and sunshine and clear your head, perpetually putting digital vomit into your brain over and over and over again, not ever taking a break from it and letting yourself get some focus and some clarity. In my mind, it’s not healthy. You know, that’s another reason why I advocate for having a quiet space where you can have solitude or like a meditation nook where you can go and get get some quiet time, just being able to take that five to 10 minutes, and relax, decompress, get away from it all. That also helps your brain to do some healing to kind of like flush out any garbage that it may have encountered during the day, and just think and heal and absorb the quiet. If the market responds to where we spend our dollars, and where we spend our time and attention, then you can just simply stop giving money and time and attention to the grifters. The con artists, the people that are out there, putting out hate speech or saying things that are inflammatory, saying things that you find gross and offensive. Oftentimes, with internet trolls, they want attention. So trying to get in an argument with them or bait them into some sort of debate or discourse, it doesn’t work, you’re not going to be able to get on there with some online troll and convince them to your way of thinking, you’re better off just ignoring them getting away from them, then you are trying to get into some big debate with somebody who’s left a nasty comment on your Facebook that said something hateful to you. There are people online that will say egregious things to you, they’ll leave a nasty comment on one of your posts that they would never come up and say to you face to face. In the real world, you know, somebody that would probably get punched in the mouth, if they came up and said something hateful to you in in the real world, we’ll be more than happy to do it cowardly behind their computer screen online. But trying to turn somebody like that into a civil decent human being is not something that you’re gonna do in the comment section on Facebook, or Twitter or LinkedIn. I hate to break it to you, you’re better off doing what you need to do to take care of yourself and to heal your brain than turn getting into some hours long debate with some idiot troll in the comment section somewhere. So for me, it’s not about censorship, and it’s not about well, I’ll just allow my critical thinking to be outsourced to the Lords of the internet. It’s about doing what you need to do to keep your own mind agile and sharp. Taking that quiet time getting away from the digital vomit, no TV, no smartphone, no tablet or internet just going somewhere, whether it’s to meditate, or to walk outside and be in nature and having that ability to clear your head. So often when we have that opportunity to get out into the real world. Not that not the digital online world that that gives us our dopamine and our serotonin. But the real world where we can interact with other people with animals with nature with plants, we start to realize just how phony and silly so much of that digital world is. Thanks for tuning in to this special broadcast. I hope you enjoyed it. If you haven’t already, take a quick second to subscribe to this podcast and leave a review for us on iTunes. Bye for now.