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Right or Effective?


The purpose of thinking is to be effective, not right. ~Edward De Bono

People seem to be more concerned with being right, with winning than they are with learning, especially when the learning may challenge their world view. Thus Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, polytheists and monotheists become entrenched in a view of reality and oppose, sometimes violently anyone or any idea outside their own myopic view. People choose to possibly remain in a perpetual state of ignorance. This is sad.

What has happened to learning?

Most of us spent a significant portion of our youth seated at hard desks, in straight little rows listening to a teacher preach facts. The measure of our learning was regurgitating the ‘facts’ we were taught on a test and earning a score. Regurgitating facts does not mean anything was learned. It simply means someone was good at memorization. It is not being effective at thinking.

The numeric score from the exam was converted into an arbitrary letter grade. (Is scoring an 89 equating to a B, just one point below a 90 equating to an A, really significant?)  The grade became the measurement of how well we learned.  The strength of the grades determined what university would accept us, if, that is, the grades were high enough that a university would consider us worthy of gracing their doors. So, Nirvana became answering an exam with the right answer and earning a superior grade that would unlock the prestigious university. Right became more important than actually learning anything.

The ability to learn complex systems sets us apart from animals. The ability to critically think about a problem and change our mind sets us apart from the higher apes. When we choose to be right at the expense of learning or critically thinking we choose to be on par with animals. And with that choice, people get entrenched in a Democratic camp or a Republican camp instead of an ability to analyze positions from both sides and see that each has both positives and negatives. And we end up electing politicians who act like animals at the expense of the people they are supposed to serve.

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