Critical thinking is the “The objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgement” followed by the ability to find fact-based information to investigate the topic or argument and discover what the facts actually are.
The goal of critical thinking is to be able to make a conclusion based on facts and not on any preconceived assumptions. According to the University of Minnesota, Professor Nan Gesche, this means having an open-minded “beginners mindset” without bias and prejudice (source).
This is the hardest part of critical thinking because of cognitive dissonance, which is the human’s tendency to argue black is white rather than hold a view that goes against their previous conditioning/assumptions.
Critical Thinking in Academia
In my previous article, I explained that the need for people to be able to critically think about current political events is increasing while studies suggest that the ability for the general public to critically think is seemingly declining (source).
Some academics are taking these findings very seriously. Ultimate Civics, for example, have developed a free American civics unit to inspire students at middle school and high school levels to think critically about U.S. democracy and emerge as change makers (source). Meanwhile, Stanford University has created free downloadable curricula, materials and assessments to help college students develop critical thinking and civic online reasoning skills (source).
But can we really rely on our education systems to provide us with critical thinking skills?
“I want a nation of workers, not thinkers.”
– John D. Rockefeller
One academic passionate about engaging people in critical thinking is Professor Jeffrey Sachs of Colombia University who recently took the opportunity during a debate about the recent missile strike against the Syrian government to use his time on a mainstream news channel to state:
“I think we have to understand how this happened. This happened because of us. These 600,000 [dead] are not just incidental. We started a war to overthrow a regime. It was covert. It was Timber Sycamore. People can look it up. The CIA operation together with Saudi Arabia still shrouded in secrecy, which is part of the problem in our country. A major war effort shrouded in secrecy, never debated by Congress, never explained to the American people, signed by President Obama – never explained. And this created chaos, and so just throwing more missiles in right now is not a response.”
While the original mainstream narrative presented to the public is that the war in Syria is multifaceted and far too complicated to be fully understood, this is absolutely not the case.
We only need to critically think about one question:
Did the USA deliberately start a war in Syria to overthrow Assad and the Syrian government?
If we first look at the official mainstream narrative, then the answer is “no”. In 2011 when the Syrian conflict began, we were told that the people of Syria had taken to the streets, following the example of Egyptians and Tunisians, to peacefully demonstrate for political reform. Then the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, ordered the Syrian Armed Forces to open fire on the demonstrators.
According to this narrative, people armed themselves and formed groups to defend themselves against Assad’s regime (source).
Related CE Articles:
The secret training and arming of rebel groups by the CIA to overthrow the government was first reported by The Washington Post and International Business Times (article now removed, but viewable here) back in 2013.
Award-winning journalist Ben Swann explained in a special 2015 Truth in Media report that ISIS entered Syria from Iraq in heavily armoured Humvees and tanks left by the U.S. military, and weapons and training from US and coalition special forces, organized by the CIA.
While reports from The Washington Post and The New York Times claim that the covert CIA program to fund rebels has now ended, Professor Jeffrey Sachs goes on to say the “war continues because we to this day back rebels that are trying to overthrow a government contrary to international law, contrary to the UN Charter, contrary to commonsense.”
A recent joint report published by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Program (OCCRP) and the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) found that the Pentagon is still supplying up to $2.2 billion worth of weapons and ammunition to Syrian rebels (source).
Michel Chossudovsky, award-winning author, Emeritus Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa, and the founder and director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) explains:
“The global war on terrorism is a US undertaking, which is fake, it’s based on fake premises. It tells us that somehow America and the Western world are going after a fictitious enemy, the Islamic state, when in fact the Islamic state is fully supported and financed by the Western military alliance and America’s allies in the Persian Gulf” (source).
Professor Jeffrey Sachs points out that the solution to the Syrian conflict is no more complicated to understand that the cause: “stop trying to support rebels who are committed to overthrowing the government” and instead “go to the UN Security Council” to “agree with Russia on a strategy for ending the fight, but ending the fight means that we stop trying to overthrow a government.”
Looking at the facts, it is clear that the answer to the question “Did the USA deliberately start a war in Syria to overthrow Assad?” is “yes.” The next question one might ask is “why?”
As a lecturer of critical thinking and solutions education myself, I designed a talk on critical thinking about Syria that took students on a deep, difficult trip down the rabbit hole of answering that question “why.”
Like coming to terms with the fact that the Twin Towers were blown up, going through this wake up process can be extreme, but it is an essential one to go through because once we are presented with facts that challenge our world view, we can only deny them (cognitive dissonance) or accept them.
If we accept them, we start to see we are not the ego (our conditioning), reject the fear-based mainstream narrative of problems, and focus instead on the love-based narrative of solutions.
I invite you to watch my full 52 min lecture, or the 3-part version below, and please consider sharing it with anyone you feel can handle the cognitive dissonance, and has the potential to free their mind.
My next article will be about the positive, alternative narrative. Sign up to stay updated here.
WUWE is a project to promote critical thinking and inspire positive personal and systemic change by raising awareness of facts not covered in the mainstream; please support me on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, or subscribe for my latest updates here.