Thursday, September 09, 2010

The Dangers Facing Progressive Thinking

One basic problem to progressives is this. Progressives tend to view issues from multiple sides, hence they will critique the argument (even their own) from multiple angles. However, conservatives lacks the understanding and ability to see any fault in their own thinking and hence will only attack the opposition. For the average person who doesn't think critically and just listen to others (even if it's from both sides), they're going to hear more negative points about the progressive argument because they will hear progressives arguing both sides and conservatives purely attacking the progressive view while fully supporting their own views. Mathematically, there will be more negative views on a progressive viewpoint vs. a conservative one.

There is a big difference in arguing and attacking a view which has really been blurred or ignored in today's politics. You can be objective and disagree with a view without attacking it blindly. This is a big difference that most people just doesn’t seem to understand. They think all criticism is bad, and if you discuss any points that automatically mean you're against it. Also, the idea that you can't change your mind is absurd. Being completely inflexible in an opinion doesn't show strength, it show ignorance in accepting other views.

A big reason for this lack of understanding is that in our educational system and society in general, critical thinking is not often taught or valued. We’re taught information and for the most part, are asked to regurgitate the information and nothing more. Very rarely are we asked to question this information or to discuss the origins or possibility that it might be wrong. It is not just a fault of society, but it is also a problem with people today. People today are amazingly connected with information through the Internet and because of that, have become lazy in turning information into thoughts or ideas. They simply read a headline here or there, never getting to the details or think for themselves the meaning of what they’re reading.

Today, each individual has more information thrown at them than ever before, but how much of that is actually used? We all seem to know more information, but it doesn’t seem to be making us any smarter or wiser in decisions or discussions. You still hear the same idiotic and naive discussions out there and worse yet, most discussions are just talking points from other people. So while we have more information, it's not being used at a higher level than simple data.

This is a big reason why there is a growing number of conservatives out there. The conservative argument is much more easily digested than a progressive argument. Conservative arguments are simplistic. Typically, it's either for or against. Period. It only requires a headline to be repeated over and over again to get into their people’s mindset. They don’t need or want you to get to the details as there is often nothing there. They simply repeat a message that's simple to understand over and over again. People digest this simple one sided argument and that becomes the basis for their thoughts. In today’s society, this is perfect as it's how to best influence people in the digital age.

On the opposite spectrum, progressive arguments are very difficult. It's difficult to describe, it's difficult to discuss, and it's just difficult all around. Progressive argument not only requires a great deal of basic knowledge into a subject, but it also requires you to think about the information to get to the conclusion as there is not just one answer. The progress argument typically have to account for multiple viewpoints so it requires a great deal of insight both into the issue at hand and of yourself. This takes a lot of time and effort. Unlike conservative views, it’s almost never just right or wrong, black or white. It’s never just good or bad. Progressives understands that this is a complicated world and that answers to solve its problems are complicated.

Unfortunately, this is where progressives will lose the majority of the population. People don’t want to think about problems. They have enough of their own problems to think about complicated global issues. The last thing a person wants to do is think about other people’s complicated issues. It also takes a very special breed of people to enjoy thinking and discuss problems. This is why you hear less and less progressive thoughts out there. It’s just too difficult to have discussions with people when they only want to talk in bullet points and not really engage in a discussion.

In today’s society, people just want to hear an answer. Much like when you google something, you just want to get an answer. We’ve become that society in all matters of life now. We want whatever we desire quickly and easily. Most people don’t want to think about things, just tell them what to know/think. Typically, whatever is the loudest and most simplistic will get the ears of the people (think top 10 links in a google search). With this mindset in people today, that’s why conservatives are winning the minds of people.

I wish I could be more positive and have a solution to this issue, but it seems quite daunting. How do you make people think when everything around them is allowing them to think and do less and less? The next generation will be inundated with even more information and they will be able to get it even more quickly. What will happen to them? Will they be more resilient than I give people credit for? I guess only time will tell.

1 comment:

AnnoyingJoe said...

The weakest aspect of those who think in a conservative strain is that they are completely assured of their own infallibility and dismiss outright any opinion that sways from their own.

There is one such person who comments ad nauseum on my blog. He is the purest example of this I have ever experienced.

Being progressive means realizing that you don't have all of the answers.