Thinking for Ourselves…What a Concept!

A woman in Utah is suing Google because a route she took using Google Maps landed her at a 4-lane highway where she was subsequently hit and injured while trying to cross.

Relatedly, a 1998 study of London taxi drivers showed their hippocampi to be much larger than normal due to all the “mental maps” they stored over the years in their work; scientists fear if those same cabbies start to rely too heavily on GPS rather than their own brain power, their hippcampi will most likely shrink along with their self-developed mapping skills.

Folks in Florida, and no doubt other states, are indicating they’d vote for candidates based solely on their TV ads, in spite of (in Florida) both candidates’ dubious past business practices (one ran a company indicted for Medicare/Medicaid fraud; the other made his zillions on the subprime mortgage mess that put the state/country in turmoil)

We’re led to believe that “multi-tasking” is an important part of getting ahead in the 21st century, when research clearly shows that heavy multi-taskers have “fractured thinking” meaning they have greater difficulty filtering out irrelevant information, which in turn greatly reduces an ability to focus; our brain power actually diminishes.

Folks watch Glenn Beck/MSNBC, or listen to sound bites on CNN, using others’ thoughts, or blurbs that offer far too little information, to replace  a cultivation of their own independent thinking and issue assessments through research, fact-finding, and good old deductive reasoning (comes in handy when politicians and media pundits contradict themselves, which they often do to sound good at the moment).

Before 24 hour news and the world wide web, we had to rely much more on discussions/debates with friends/colleagues/acquaintances – which also meant we weren’t as able to “filter” out those with whom we may not agree as we can now by attending to only the shows/web-info that feed our biases.

This in turn compelled us to rely more heavily on our own ability to form judgments and assess situations to make an informed decision (we knew that crossing a 4 lane highway has inherent dangers of which we must be keenly aware prior to attempting…); there was little else to turn to (well, the rumor mill will always be available…).

It also forced us to take a broader view of situations rather than continuously and by design sustain an “information bias” – the fact that some of those folks with whom we “debated” the issues of the day were not in agreement with us made us, at least for the duration of that discussion, hear opposing points of view and the thinking behind them.  Even if no minds were changed at the moment, at least we got out of our very narrow perspective for a short time…and doing that enough times, over time, can make one a tad more broad-minded.

The more we abrogate independent, informed, self-developed thinking, just like not voting, the more we allow everyone but ourselves to ultimately control our lives.

No wonder we’re so angry.

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