The biggest problem with critical thinking is the critical part. It’s not socially acceptable; it’s not nice to be critical. And thinking? Well, we’ll get to that.
As I was mindlessly dawdling on Facebook (which is about the only thing one can do there), and was just at the point of chastising myself, I came upon a post that defined how and why civilization repeatedly commits suicide. Here’s part of the text from the much-reposted and thumbs-upped post:
I’m vaccinated and, no, I don’t know what’s in it—neither this vaccine, the ones I had as a child, nor in the Big Mac, or in hot dogs, or in other treatments…whether it’s for cancer, AIDS, the one for polyarthritis, or vaccines for infants or children. I trust my doctor when he says it’s needed.
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
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I also don’t know what’s in Ibuprofen, Tylenol, or other meds, it just cures my headaches & my pains…
I don’t know what’s in the ink for tattoos, vaping, or every ingredient in my soap or shampoo or even deodorants. I don’t know the long-term effect of cell phone use or whether or not that restaurant I just ate at REALLY used clean foods and washed their hands.
There’s a lot of things I don’t know and never will…
I just know one thing: life is short, very short…
You can almost hear the writer say, “Thinking? I don’t need no stinkin’ thinkin’; I’ve got people for that.” Apparently, because life is very short, it should be very easy. The above post goes on to extol COVID-19 vaccines as the means of getting on with life. No, I’m not going to be critical of people who’ve taken the jab, and I’m not judging their thought process; I am judging the process iterated in the post quoted above, mostly because it’s not a process at all—it’s blind trust.
And just to be clear, I haven’t taken a flu shot in twenty-six years—it’s not how I do healthcare—but I have no opinion to share about what you or anyone else does. It’s your choice. I fully acknowledge that COVID-19 may kill me, but I decided many years ago to take a natural approach to healthcare, refusing six “maintenance drugs” that doctors have insisted I need, and I’m doing quite well, thank you. I don’t catch colds or the flu (my last instance of the flu was when I got my last flu shot—maybe that was the magic one). For me it’s a choice of risk A vs. risk B. The average American my age is on five maintenance drugs, a fact that I find absurd. But I digress.
Returning to the Facebook post, this is not the first time that you or I have seen the shortness of life used as an excuse for non-critical thinking; this mentality is literally everywhere we turn. Life is short; why waste it reading non-fiction when you can wallow in fiction?
We have several epidemics in this country that few people are talking about. One of them is autism, which is growing exponentially. We don’t know its cause, and we cannot do the impossible: we cannot prove a negative hypothesis; that is, we cannot make the claim that it has nothing to do with the myriad of man-made chemicals that inundate our existence, foremost among them the environmental and personal residue of our fascination with patent medicine. A former coworker of mine summed it up: “When I go to the doctor, I don’t want a lecture on lifestyle, I want a pill to make me better.”
While it is certainly true that we can waste an awful lot of time being caught up in trifles, blind trust—uncritical thinking—is a sin; it is the sin of the unproductive servant who buries the talents the master has entrusted to him rather than investing them. Our health, and the health of those around us, is a great gift—not one to be wholly entrusted to corporate America, federal bureaucrats, and a doctors’ organization that has abandoned the Hippocratic Oath.
There was a time when there was some possibility of your health insurance company playing the part of patient’s advocate, but in a system where more and more hospitals and clinics are being bought up and operated by insurance companies (can you say conflict of interest?), who is there to play the part of patient’s advocate within that structure?
In 2009, vaccine/pharma conglomerate Pfizer paid $2.3 billion, the largest healthcare fraud settlement in history, “to resolve criminal and civil liability arising from the illegal promotion of certain pharmaceutical products” a Justice Department webpage tells us. This despite the revelations of a 2020 investigation by the Journal of the American Medical Association which revealed that, between 1999 and 2018, pharma companies spent $4.7 billion lobbying federal agencies and Congress, with Pfizer providing 93% of the industry total—93% of $4.7 billion!
But all of this is small change considering that Pfizer had a profit of $9.2 billion in vaccine sales in the second quarter of 2021 alone, all reconfirming the old adage that it’s often more lucrative to beg forgiveness than to seek permission. Can we assume that fraud is now off the table? That the lying and misrepresentation and “kickbacks to health care providers to induce them to prescribe” that is described in the Justice Department document have all ended? Everything’s now on the up and up?
But this is not an article about healthcare, specifically. Unfortunately, healthcare is just the tip of the blind-trust iceberg. The greatest gifts we have received in life are our intellect and free will. Specifically, they are what make us human. To not use these gifts is to deny one’s very nature. The real menace comes when blind trust is placed in pop culture, secular or religious. Blind trust, in anything other than our Creator, is a sin.
I trust in the deposit of faith that our Savior has given us through His Holy Church, but that trust is certainly not blind; I have studied and prayed my entire life to cement that trust. Blind trust is the ticket to short-term rewards—an intellectual line of credit: you do the thinking for me; I’ve got a life to live. By this means, we create intellectual debts that cannot be repaid. In the business of life’s decisions, if you’re not investing, you’re a parasite endangering yourself and others.
Blind trust is what people often engage in when they vote with their feet. Why stay and work hard to improve something—a marriage, a family, a business, a faith community—when it’s so much easier and so much more ego-plumping to simply declare your troubles someone else’s fault and reassign your blind trust to a new target. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes a change is necessary, but it should never be a blind change of menu or venue; it needs to be the result of critical thinking.
The Holy Father points to blind trust as the fertile breeding ground for a clericalism that enabled the clergy sex-abuse scourge (and in the next breath, he plays the clerical card by deeply insinuating that an attack on him is a satanic attack on the Church—but that is a subject for another day). Blind trust has been enabling a Marxist takeover of our education systems. Many among us have attention spans far too short to be critical thinkers—to be concerned about things that we can simply entrust to others. Most non-critical thinkers are nice folk—unpretentious, unsuspecting, trusting, kind—but they are malignantly naïve and a danger to themselves and civilization.
Of course, none of us can get through life without trusting someone to do something. Not only is there nothing wrong with trusting someone, it is unavoidable. But to do so uncritically, like doing anything in life uncritically, is an error, and quite possibly, a grave error.
Following the teachings of an autocrat is an act of blind trust. The claims of Muhammad, Jim Jones, and Joseph Smith could not attract critical thinkers. They were all autocrats: self-proclaimed prophets, their own witnesses—their only witnesses—and they led flocks of uncritical thinkers, who in turn created larger flocks through violent coercion. A throng of emotional, uncritical thinkers is a formidable foundation for the next dark age.
And no, the pope is not an autocrat; his authority is only in the realm of faith and morals and only within the bounds of the deposit of faith; going uncritically outside of those bounds can get him anathematized (at least, posthumously), as it did Pope Honorius I. Furthermore, no pope creates his own position or nominates himself, and we are called to follow him humbly, but not uncritically. Humility and meekness should never be confused with being uncritical. To be meek is to be teachable, and only critical thinkers are truly teachable. The non-critical thinker can be indoctrinated, but he cannot be taught.
Decades of non-critical thinking have created our odd era, one of those eras that will oft be recalled, by the critical thinkers of the future, with the epitaph, Did they really…?
- Did they really think that the first line of defense against disease was the ingestion or injection of chemicals that don’t exist in nature? Did they really?
- Did they really think that a baby was not a human being while it was in the womb but becomes one miraculously in the birth canal? WHAT?!!! Really???
- Did they really encourage children to think about whether they wanted to be male or female and then mutilate their little genitals to match the delusion they had encouraged? And licensed physicians participated? Did they really???
- Did they really send women into combat to fight against men???
- Did they really allow corporate conglomerates to collude to control the “news”? To collude with big tech to control the narrative? Were no suspicions raised when the above all introduced the same catch phrases simultaneously?—Repeatedly? Really?
Such are the inscriptions on the tombstone of the uncritical thinker and the verbiage scrawled in the annals of an uncritical age. I could go on and on with these epitaphs, but you can fill in those blanks on your own. Truth is, we all have biases that make us less than 100% critical thinkers, and an inability to recognize that fact should be our first indication that it is true. But all is not lost—culture is not destroyed—by the imperfect. Culture is destroyed by deserters—non-critical thinkers abandoning their humanity—voting with their feet, in the name of life’s brevity, to join the emotional throng and cruise that wide avenue of comfort to their inheritance on perennially-crumbling Easy Street.
[Photo Credit: Unsplash]