I know you will responId right away, “I think for myself!” After all, everyone believes this even when it is not true.
Ideally, we first learn to think from parents, grandparents, and other significant family members (actually related or not.) Not everyone is lucky like I was in that regard. Especially among poorer families that tend to fracture, be violently unhappy, and often malnourished. And also among obscenely rich families who tend to isolate themselves in self-indulgence and ignore and even disdain others. Their children tend to be raised by servants, friends, and television (or YouTube and streaming services for today’s children choking on silver spoons.) I was lucky in the family I was born into, but I have to confess to being significantly impacted by television, though I lucked out there too in that I watched the simpler, more positive TV world pre-Kennedy Assassination and pre-Vietnam War and pre-9/11. It was a time that was far less cynical and less filled with anxiety and anger.
As we grow, we are influenced too by the educational experience forced upon us by society. We are supposed to learn how to think for ourselves in school, though the opposite is actually true. In your third-grade classroom, you are supposed to learn how to add and subtract, multiply, spell correctly, read at least at a third-grade level, and understand the fundamentals of science and social studies. In truth, however, the school experience spends most of its time teaching you to be obedient. You are expected to sit at your desk in orderly rows, open your various textbooks when you are commanded to do so, study and do worksheets quietly, and generally accept that what the teacher tells you is true and should be remembered.
That, of course, is not how children learn. Children learn by doing, playing, and interacting with others, things teachers spend a lot of time punishing. I found as a teacher that you made more progress in educating kids if you do things, talk about things, and turn lessons into playing around with ideas. Basically, allowing children to be themselves, choose which direction the lesson takes, and answering the questions they ask as truthfully as I could without using bad words. These, of course, are things that most principals hate to see going on when they walk by the classroom. Schools tend to be conformity factories, getting kids to think alike, be obedient, and accept what is considered normal, making them perfect future MacDonald’s and Walmart employees.
Happy Walmart employees (a rare species in my experience) only do what their managers tell them to do. And the managers do only what the policy handbook tells them to do. And problems are solved by corporate. Nobody has to think very much.
And there are people who very much want to control what little thinking is done. If you watch news shows, especially on CNN, MSNBC, and infamously, FOX News, they give you a host talking to panels of experts, talking heads that are happy to tell you what to think.
CNN and MSNBC attempt to give you a panel of experts with representatives of three or four different positions. A range of people who will gladly give you opposite opinions of what to think.
FOX News gives you a panel skewed towards the radical-conservative viewpoint with “liberal” commentators present in order to mock them, or, if they are real liberals, gang up on them.
All of these are trying to do the thinking for you. A good word for that is “propaganda.” But if they are honestly providing you with a range of competing ideas for you to evaluate and choose between, they are not as toxic and dangerous as the unabashed propagandists behind the radical-conservative movement.
Conservative media is now highly organized into funneling machines which collect non-thinkers and direct them to the ideas that will make them more supportive of top-down control (in other words, fascism.) This is what allows a political group (ultra-conservative Republicans) to dominate the government and create laws and tax breaks that go against the best interests of the general public and impose an order on the country that a majority of citizens don’t want.
The following video explains how the malevolent, manipulative monkeys do what they do.
So, the next question to be dealt with is, obviously, “How do you think for yourself?” Ah, another post on another day.