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Critical Thinking

Thinking Dangerously In Age Of Normalized Ignorance

  • Salmon Rushdie is right in viewing thinking dangerously as a type of political necessity whose purpose is to “push boundaries and take risks and so, at times, to change the way we see the world.” As Hannah Arendt noted, thoughtfulness, the ability to think reflectively and critically is fundamental to radical change and a necessity in a functioning democracy. Put differently, formative cultures that make such thinking possible along with the spaces in which dialogue, debate, and dissent can flourish are essential to producing critically literate and actively engaged citizens.
  • Related: I’m with stupid: The entire 2016 election has been an insult to our intelligence.

Henry Giroux, CounterPunch Photo by new 1lluminati | CC BY 2.0

September 30, 2016 | What happens to a society when thinking is eviscerated and is disdained in favor of raw emotion? [1] What happens when political discourse functions as a bunker rather than a bridge? What happens when the spheres of morality and spirituality give way to the naked instrumentalism of a savage market rationality? What happens when time becomes a burden for most people and surviving becomes more crucial than trying to lead a life with dignity? What happens when domestic terrorism, disposability, and social death become the new signposts and defining features of a society? What happens to a social order ruled by an “economics of contempt” that blames the poor for their condition and wallows in a culture of shaming?[2] What happens when loneliness and isolation become the preferred modes of sociality? What happens to a polity when it retreats into private silos and is no longer able to connect personal suffering with larger social issues? What happens to thinking when a society is addicted to speed and over-stimulation? What happens to a country when the presiding principles of a society are violence and ignorance? What happens is that democracy withers not just as an ideal but also as a reality, and individual and social agency become weaponized as part of the larger spectacle and matrix of violence?[3]

The forces normalizing and contributing to such violence are too expansive to cite, but surely they would include: the absurdity of celebrity culture; the blight of rampant consumerism; state-legitimated pedagogies of repression that kill the imagination of students; a culture of immediacy in which accelerated time leaves no room for reflection; the reduction of education to training; the transformation of mainstream media into a mix of advertisements, propaganda, and entertainment; the emergence of an economic system which argues that only the market can provide remedies for the endless problems it produces, extending from massive poverty and unemployment to decaying schools and a war on poor minority youth; the expanding use of state secrecy and the fear-producing surveillance state; and a Hollywood fluff machine that rarely relies on anything but an endless spectacle of mind-numbing violence. Historical memory has been reduced to the likes of a Disney theme park and a culture of instant gratification has a lock on producing new levels of social amnesia.

Henry Giroux currently holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the English and Cultural Studies Department and a Distinguished Visiting Professorship at Ryerson University. His most recent books are America’s Education Deficit and the War on Youth (Monthly Review Press, 2013) and Neoliberalism’s War on Higher Education (Haymarket Press, 2014).

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 I’m with stupid: The entire 2016 election has been an insult to our intelligence, Sophia A. McClennen, Salon 

  • We are going to have to start asking ourselves if we want a nation of extremist thinkers incapable of critical reflection or we want to start recovering our collective brainpower. As Monbiot put it, “Ignorant politicians are elected by ignorant people.” Democracies are only as smart as the people in them. So the real question we have to face is: Are we with stupid or not?
  • Related: The Arrogance of Ignorance

I’m with stupid: The entire 2016 election has been an insult to our intelligence.

  • We are going to have to start asking ourselves if we want a nation of extremist thinkers incapable of critical reflection or we want to start recovering our collective brainpower. As Monbiot put it, “Ignorant politicians are elected by ignorant people.” Democracies are only as smart as the people in them. So the real question we have to face is: Are we with stupid or not?
  • Related: The Arrogance of Ignorance

Sophia A. McClennen, Salon, Oct 29, 2016 | Back in 2008 only weeks away from the election of Barack Obama as president, British journalist George Monbiot wondered how U.S. politics had come to be “dominated by people who make a virtue out of ignorance.” Riffing on the rise of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and reflecting on the acceptance of morons like former vice president Dan Quayle, Monbiot wondered how it was that we had allowed our political scene to be dominated by “screaming ignoramuses.”

Eight years later it seems clear that we were only just getting started.

If there has been one constant this election it is that our collective political decision-making process suffers from profound ignorance. And while the award for stupidity goes directly to the campaign of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his supporters, it’s important to note that there is plenty of stupid to go around.

Sophia A. McClennen is Professor of International Affairs and Comparative Literature at the Pennsylvania State University. She writes on the intersections between culture, politics, and society. Her latest book, co-authored with Remy M. Maisel, is, Is Satire Saving Our Nation? Mockery and American Politics.

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The Arrogance of Ignorance, Sylvain Lamoureux, OpEdNews 

  • The year is 2016 and we are at war with everything, including ourselves; have we really "advanced" as a "civilization" or "society"? How can we when as a whole we are neither civil nor social.
  • Related: It’s Time to Stand Up for Truth and Intelligence



Propaganda Rules the News

  • By constantly denying, deforming, and upending the truth, the Corporate Media are the main guardians of a global system of breathtaking hypocrisy and criminality, and the principal threat to the survival of all life on this planet. 
  • The Western Media “Presstitutes” Continue to LIE about the Ukraine and just about everything else.
  • Related: Nygaard Notes #584: Ten Concrete Tips for Media Propaganda Self-Defense

Paul Craig Roberts, the 4th Media News / the Greanville Post you can follow Evergreene Digest on Twitter.



August 12, 2016 | Gerald Celente calls the Western media “presstitutes,” an ingenuous term that I often use. Presstitutes sell themselves to Washington for access and government sources and to keep their jobs. Ever since the corrupt Clinton regime permitted the (further) concentration of the US media, there has been no journalistic independence in the United States except for some Internet sites.

Glenn Greenwald points out the independence that RT, a Russian media organization, permits Abby Martin who denounced Russia’s alleged invasion of Ukraine, compared to the fates of Phil Donahue (MSNBC) and Peter Arnett (NBC), both of whom were fired for expressing opposition to the Bush regime’s illegal attack on Iraq. The fact that Donahue had NBC’s highest rated program did not give him journalistic independence. Anyone who speaks the truth in the American print or TV media or on NPR is immediately fired.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest books are, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and How America Was Lost. 

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Related: Notes #584: Ten Concrete Tips for Media Propaganda Self-Defense, Jeff Nygaard, Nygaard Notes

  • Read books; take a class; talk to informed people; read specialist and activist stuff; do a case study.  All of these things will provide nutrients that you can’t get from a diet composed of nothing but the daily news.  
  • That’s why I suggest that what we call “the media”—whether it be corporate or progressive/alternative—should be only a part of a well-balanced information diet.



Propaganda and the Fake Left Media; or, Shills for Clinton

[Picture on masthead is by Tom Lin.]

Related: How liberal apologists torpedoed change, helped make the Democrats safe for Wall Street If you like reading this article, consider joining the crew of all reader-supported Evergreene Digest by contributing the equivalent of a cafe latte a month--using the donation button above—so we can bring you more just like it.


September, 2016 | Now Age Conversations: “Propaganda and Fake Left Media” with Joshua Frank 

Joshua Frank is Managing Editor at Counterpunch.

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How liberal apologists torpedoed change, helped make the Democrats safe for Wall Street, Thomas Frank, Salon

Center-left pundits have carried water for the president for six years. Their predictable excuses all ring hollow.

It’s not just Fox News.

Related: Stop Whining About 'False Balance'

The Arrogance of Ignorance


  • The year is 2016 and we are at war with everything, including ourselves; have we really "advanced" as a "civilization" or "society"? How can we when as a whole we are neither civil nor social.
  • Related: It’s Time to Stand Up for Truth and Intelligence

Sylvain Lamoureux, OpEdNews ego (image by !unite)   License   DMCA

7/18/2016 | How does a control mechanism based upon the minority population enact controls over the majority - fill them with fears insecurities and an inflated sense of importance while pitting them against each other and offering the only viable solutions. This brings everything down to the personal level, so that any conversation (or attempt thereof) is immediately considered as a threat, no matter how logical it may be. There are always the basic projections such as "you just want to be right" or "you just want everyone to think like you" - always an external enemy instead of actually listening to the words and logic which is attempted to be conveyed. Divide and conquer at its basis, for this conversation is about people of same backgrounds and similar experiences which turn on each other at the drop of a hat over simple words, misunderstandings and fear of having their ignorance called out.

I have always said that a good start to healing the myriad of problems in this world is to understand and enact true communication (ironic for the "communication age"); for this is a skill which has been (in my opinion) deliberately programmed out of us. Instead we are left with a reactionary base which throws around the "how I feel" meme about certain words to the point where if the word itself is not all that important, I will try to invoke "It's the way you said it" justification: to kill the messenger instead of hearing the actual message is actually the "norm" today.

Sylvain Lamoureu: I am human. My definition of intelligence would be the ability to see beyond the norm, learn, experience as much as is possible in one life time and question everything. I like to think that I am a logical guy that is mainly self educated with interests in such things as philosophy, politics, sociology, technology and psychology.



It’s Time to Stand Up for Truth and Intelligence, John W. Traphagan, Huffington Post

  •’s a sad reality that the U.S. has arrived at this point, but we are here and it is time for those who support truth, facts, and intelligence — whether they are conservatives or liberals — to work hard to protect American democracy. The November election is nothing less than a vote on the future of that democratic system.
  • Related: What Happens When Facts Don't Matter Anymore
  • Related: How American Politics Went Insane

A Post-Factual Democracy?

  • Bill Adair, creator of Politifact and Knight Professor of Journalism at Duke University, talks about whether (or not) truth is still informing public discourse.
  • Related: What Happens When Facts Don't Matter Anymore

Alexander Heffner, The Open Mind 17, 2016 | I’m Alexander Heffner, your host on The Open Mind. What is proven in jeopardy during this 2016 campaign is the truth, or at least whatever objective truth is still in the eye of the beholder. As we reside increasingly in a post-factual and contextual democracy, to help us understand if and how we are desensitized to fact and to faction is PolitiFact creator and contributing editor Bill Adair, now Knight Professor of Journalism at Duke University, where he is Director of the Dewitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy. Adair is also the cofounder of the International Fact-Checking Network, the world’s largest association of fact-checkers. The ubiquitous lies saturating our politics today are such a pervasive plague on our discourse that checking misleading or false statements apparently isn’t enough. Adair has since created Share the Facts to combat the vast majority of false utterances among our public officials. Because it would appear that they and their motives are not always harboring the truth, nothing but the truth, so help them, God, and help us. Uh, Bill, it’s a pleasure to have you here. It’s been clear this cycle that our politics are tactless, lacking tact. Are they also factless?

ADAIR: Well it’s funny, we, we actually hear this every election, so this idea of the post-fact society isn’t a new phrase. Um, uh, my colleague Alexios Mantzarlis at Poynter, at the International Fact-Checking Network, he has um, looked back and found that phrase from 2004, from 2008, 2012, um, as well as back in the 80s academics were using that phrase, so the concept that candidates are um, ignoring the facts is not a new one. I think what’s, what’s new this time is fact-checking. We know more than ever when the politicians are saying something false because there’s been huge growth in fact-checking. And that is a wonderful thing. Um, and I think also we have a candidate in Donald Trump who has an extraordinary record for falsehoods, I mean far greater than anything we’ve seen before at PolitiFact and so I think we have a tendency to sort of focus on that, but remember this phenomenon, um, of politicians ignoring facts is, is really not a new one.

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What Happens When Facts Don't Matter Anymore, Compiled by David Culver, Ed., Evergreene Digest 

  • What happens to us if facts don’t matter anymore?
  • Facts. Who needs ‘em, right?
  • Part 1: Make Facts Great Again
  • Part 2: Trump Surrogate Dismisses Fact-Checking As ‘Elitist’ And ‘Out Of Touch’

Welcome to Your Delusional Democracy

  • If you continue to believe that ordinary participation in elections will fix our nation, then you have not faced history and reality.  You remain delusional.
  • Related: Corrupt and Deranged

Joel S. Hirschhorn, Counterpunch September 12, 2016 | For some years I have used the term “delusional democracy” to describe the condition of the US.  It seemed obvious to me that the vast majority of Americans have deliberately chosen to fool themselves.  They have been brainwashed to believe what no longer is true.  Become convinced that you do not live in a true and terrific democracy, or that your democracy is the best in the world.

I stopped believing this myth many years ago.  All the objective evidence I saw over fifty years of paying intense attention both as a citizen and someone who worked within the political system showed me that American democracy had steadily declined in quality, integrity and effectiveness.  And now in this 2016 presidential race you have powerful and painful evidence that we are saddled with a delusional democracy.  Thank Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump for opening your mind and eyes to reveal this revolting truth.

Joel S. Hirschhorn is the author of Delusional Democracy - Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government. His current political writings have been greatly influenced by working as a senior staffer for the U.S. Congress and for the National Governors Association. He advocates a Second American Revolution, beginning with an Article V Convention to propose constitutional amendments.

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Dave & the Crew

Corrupt and Deranged, Robert Gore, Straight Line Logic can awaken minds and rouse people to action, posing an obvious threat to the corrupt and deranged. Should Trump win the election, he will assuredly be presented with the same choice as the child in the story: get with the program or die. Odds are he folds, in which case those of us rooting for meaningful change will be left with the hope that the inevitable collapse occurs before we die.



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