Critical thinking

This is a continuation of an article I recently wrote about critical skills to prepare for collapse. It is telling that the idea of collapse is more widely accepted, but not surprising as the signs are appearing in so many ways. Rather than being something environmentalists just talk about, the actual damage is occurring everywhere.

But simply applying critical thinking to a problem or situation doesn’t necessarily mean you arrive at the best solution. The more you know about the situation you are facing, the better. Which is why banning books and all the other restrictions being placed on education is so tragic. It also explains why that is being done. Those working to control us don’t want us to have that knowledge. They want us to be dependent on what they want and say.

The point of critical thinking is that as you learn more, you can integrate that into your knowledge base and make better decisions. Which is going to be crucial in the face of the rapid and dramatic changes that will be, already are occurring.

And there are many situations that involve our values, which are not subject to critical thinking.

Several people have asked me why I put ‘critical thinking’ on this list. My sense, from reading works like the Davids’ The Dawn of Everything and Peter Brody’s The Other Side of Eden is that what most distinguishes our civilization from most prehistoric and indigenous ones is that, before education became something that we ‘did’ to people, most people naturally acquired this essential skill, by facing the many existential challenges that life outside our synthetic, infantilizing, prosthetic, standardized culture presented to them every day. In short, they learned how to learn because they had to; they didn’t have to be ‘taught’.

My experience has been that, given that it is no longer a prerequisite for survival, critical thinking is now something that has to be specifically nurtured in people, which probably happens most often by parents’ encouragement. Lacking that, there’s a natural propensity, I think, for simplification and uncritical reaction. But if you’re taught the value and importance of critical thinking, I think you figure out this process of weighing and assessing and challenging what the world throws at you.

But I’m not so sure about this. Maybe, just as we can learn to make our own clothes and grow much of our own food if and when we have to (as millions discovered during the Great Depression), we can also learn to learn, to think critically, to challenge unsupported rhetoric, to think for ourselves instead of relying on increasingly-incompetent media to tell us what we should and should not believe.

When it begins to dawn on us, in five years or twenty-five, that we are going to have to quickly instill the above (see the article) currently rare skills in many or even most of our people, how might we go about it? As pessimistic as I am, I just can’t believe it’s already too late to do so.

So I’m thinking about these questions:

  1. What’s the most effective way to voluntarily get billions of people to the point they are capable of exercising the above skills?
  2. How do we get the timing right: Not so early that there’s not yet a sense of urgency, but not so late that we’re trying to do it in an environment of chaos?
  3. How might we begin to identify, improve the competencies of, and empower the right people to do the mentoring, teaching, training, demonstrating, connecting, modelling, and other hands-on imparting of knowledge and skills needed to make it happen?
  4. How can we make this new, crucial learning easier, and fun?

 ‘How Do We Teach the Critical Skills Needed to Face Collapse?” by Dave Pollard, How To save the world, September 10, 2022.

So I don’t see any top-down ‘professional’ answer to developing the above essential skills in the coming decades, not even the skill of ‘helping people cope’ with collapse. I think the answer has to emerge bottom up, from within each community as that community establishes itself.

 ‘How Do We Teach the Critical Skills Needed to Face Collapse?” by Dave Pollard, How To save the world, September 10, 2022.

So, we arrive at my experience with Mutual Aid. A future article will discuss how Mutual Aid is providing skills and developing communities to face collapse.

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