Thursday, January 05, 2006

SMART People are STUPID!

Why are Smart People Stupid?


This isn't the time to Blink.
It's time to THINK! -- before it's too late.

Outraged by the downward spiral of American intellect and culture, Michael R. LeGault offers the flip side of Malcolm Gladwell's bestselling phenomenon, Blink, which theorized that our best decision-making is done on impulse, without factual knowledge or critical analysis.

If bestselling books are advising us to not think, LeGault argues, it comes as no surprise that sharp, incisive reasoning has become a lost art in the daily life of Americans.

Somewhere along the line, the Age of Reason morphed into the Age of Emotion; this systemic erosion is costing time, money, jobs, and lives in the twenty-first century, leading to less fulfillment and growing dysfunction.

LeGault provides a bold, controversial, and objective analysis of the causes and solutions for:

• the erosion of growth and market share at many established American companies, big and small, which appear to have less chance of achieving the dynamic expansion of the past

• permissive parenting and low standards that have caused an academic crisis among our children -- body weights rise while grades plummet

• America's growing political polarization, which is a result of our reluctance to think outside our comfort zone

• faulty planning and failure to act on information at all levels that has led to preventable disasters, such as the Hurricane Katrina meltdown

• a culture of image and instant gratification, fed by reality shows and computer games, that has rendered curiosity of the mind and spirit all but obsolete

• stress, aversion to taking risks, and therapy that are replacing the traditional American "can do" mind-set.

Far from perpetuating the stereotype of the complacent American, LeGault's no-holds-barred analysis asks more of us than any other societal overview: America can fulfill its greatest potential starting today, and we need smart teachers, smart health care workers, smart sales representatives, smart students, smart mechanics, and smart leaders to make it happen.
Now is the time to THINK! -- because a mind truly is a terrible thing to waste.

It's time to THINK! - REVIEW:

Legault writes this book in order to expose the lack of critical thinking skills inherent in the stunted thinking processes of a society with full stomachs and empty heads i.e. like the non-thinking of so many voters in their recent vote on Gov Scharzenegger's initiatives in the great state of California. Or, the thinking skills unused where it comes to critiquing the coming problems inherent in our social security and medicare/medicaid ponzi schemes.

As such, LeGault seeks to contrast objective thinking and reasoned analysis with the more subjective forms of decision making borne of emotion and ideals. He exposes the intellectual fraud of political correctness where the perfect is the enemy of the good (LeGault sees politcal correctness as a deceit and a dishonesty by drawing the distinctions between a moral code that sees the world as it is versus one where the viewer sees it as he thinks it ought to be.) He also upholds the kind of reasoning found in Malcolm Gladwell's book "Blink" to the kind of scrutiny it deserves.

Gladwell essentially writes about the concept known today as "profiling" without uttering the word. In essence, profiling isn't about a snap, emotional analysis as much as it's about how one who has spent inordinate time in a particular environment arrives at instant decisions based on prior experiences and bouts of critical analysis, all of which have resulted in a myriad of successes and failures over a time contuiuum. From this, seemingly instant decisions are made when in fact they are more on the order of Darwinian instincts honed over time. Think of a rookie quarterback who after many hard knocks and errors learns his craft over several seasons of trial and error. The blink factor for him comes i.e. when he reads a blitz and adapts immediately by hitting a seam in the zone versus being sacked. Critical analysis is what he does in the film room.

Practice is where he learns to change his habits. And, game experiences preceed his improvement as a quarterback. He learns to audible under pressure or he's out of the league or taken off the count, take your pick.

The truism is that all progress is the result of confronting truth with almost all great disparities between people the result of individual decisions, the way that they think and act upon their thinking.

In an open system like that found in America disparities can be erased quickly by people deciding to change the way they think. To this he discusses how political ideology can lead to unclear lazy thinking among smart people, and amen to that (it makes you rethink the definition of smart; you'd think they'd look at the game films, would you not?)

He correctly identifies how bad thought and research can harm societies and he cites "Silent Spring" by Rachel Carson as an example. Look no further than that tomes' ridiculous dunuciation of DDT, a claim based on junk science, which has resulted in so many unnecessary worldwide deaths over the last 35 years.

He also recognizes the importance of sound social policy based on factual evidence, sound critical thinking skills, and logical reasoning, all of which can result in a common ground beyond political partisanship. And in this regard, he scolds both sides of the political isle where looney decision making is to be found. Of note, he exposes Noam Chomsky, the assumed intellectual guru of the far left as not a thinker, but as a dogmatist, a pedant and an anarchist; plus, as a hypocrite as documented in Peter Schwiezer's latest book, "do as I say, not as I do."

In the final analysis he begs the reason why people aren't more analytical with regard to all the available facts and not just the ones that support their position.

I'll wait, but that's the book I want to read.

Meanwhile, this one is pretty good.

Think! : Why Crucial Decisions Can't Be Made in the Blink of an Eye

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