Teaching Millennials to think

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Adam J. MacLeod is an associate professor of law at Jones School of Law at Faulkner University in Montgomery, Alabama. He writes at NewBostonPost,

I teach in a law school. For several years now my students have been mostly Millennials. Contrary to stereotype, I have found that the vast majority of them want to learn. But true to stereotype, I increasingly find that most of them cannot think, don’t know very much, and are enslaved to their appetites and feelings. Their minds are held hostage in a prison fashioned by elite culture and their undergraduate professors.

They cannot learn until their minds are freed from that prison. This year in my Foundations of Law course for first-year law students, I found my students especially impervious to the ancient wisdom of foundational texts, such as Plato’s Crito and the Code of Hammurabi. Many of them were quick to dismiss unfamiliar ideas as “classist” and “racist,” and thus unable to engage with those ideas on the merits. So, a couple of weeks into the semester, I decided to lay down some ground rules. I gave them these rules just before beginning our annual unit on legal reasoning.
Here is the speech I gave them.
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Before I can teach you how to reason, I must first teach you how to rid yourself of unreason. For many of you have not yet been educated. You have been dis-educated. To put it bluntly, you have been indoctrinated. Before you learn how to think you must first learn how to stop unthinking.

Reasoning requires you to understand truth claims, even truth claims that you think are false or bad or just icky. Most of you have been taught to label things with various “isms” which prevent you from understanding claims you find uncomfortable or difficult.

Reasoning requires correct judgment. Judgment involves making distinctions, discriminating. Most of you have been taught how to avoid critical, evaluative judgments by appealing to simplistic terms such as “diversity” and “equality.”

Reasoning requires you to understand the difference between true and false. And reasoning requires coherence and logic. Most of you have been taught to embrace incoherence and illogic. You have learned to associate truth with your subjective feelings, which are neither true nor false but only yours, and which are constantly changeful.

We will have to pull out all of the weeds in your mind as we come across them. Unfortunately, your mind is full of weeds, and this will be a very painful experience. But it is strictly necessary if anything useful, good, and fruitful is to be planted in your head.

There is no formula for this. Each of you has different weeds, and so we will need to take this on the case-by-case basis. But there are a few weeds that infect nearly all of your brains. So I am going to pull them out now.

First, except when describing an ideology, you are not to use a word that ends in “ism.” Communism, socialism, Nazism, and capitalism are established concepts in history and the social sciences, and those terms can often be used fruitfully to gain knowledge and promote understanding. “Classism,” “sexism,” “materialism,” “cisgenderism,” and (yes) even racism are generally not used as meaningful or productive terms, at least as you have been taught to use them. Most of the time, they do not promote understanding.
In fact, “isms” prevent you from learning. You have been taught to slap an “ism” on things that you do not understand, or that make you feel uncomfortable, or that make you uncomfortable because you do not understand them. But slapping a label on the box without first opening the box and examining its contents is a form of cheating. Worse, it prevents you from discovering the treasures hidden inside the box. For example, when we discussed the Code of Hammurabi, some of you wanted to slap labels on what you read which enabled you to convince yourself that you had nothing to learn from ancient Babylonians. But when we peeled off the labels and looked carefully inside the box, we discovered several surprising truths. In fact, we discovered that Hammurabi still has a lot to teach us today.

One of the falsehoods that has been stuffed into your brain and pounded into place is that moral knowledge progresses inevitably, such that later generations are morally and intellectually superior to earlier generations, and that the older the source the more morally suspect that source is. There is a term for that. It is called chronological snobbery. Or, to use a term that you might understand more easily, “ageism.”

Second, you have been taught to resort to two moral values above all others, diversity and equality. These are important values if properly understood. But the way most of you have been taught to understand them makes you irrational, unreasoning. For you have been taught that we must have as much diversity as possible and that equality means that everyone must be made equal. But equal simply means the same. To say that 2+2 equals 4 is to say that 2+2 is numerically the same as four. And diversity simply means difference. So when you say that we should have diversity and equality you are saying we should have difference and sameness. That is incoherent, by itself. Two things cannot be different and the same at the same time in the same way.

Furthermore, diversity and equality are not the most important values. In fact, neither diversity nor equality is valuable at all in its own right. Some diversity is bad. For example, if slavery is inherently wrong, as I suspect we all think it is, then a diversity of views about the morality of slavery is worse than complete agreement that slavery is wrong.

Similarly, equality is not to be desired for its own sake. Nobody is equal in all respects. We are all different, which is to say that we are all not the same, which is to say that we are unequal in many ways. And that is generally a good thing. But it is not always a good thing (see the previous remarks about diversity).

Related to this: You do you not know what the word “fair” means. It does not just mean equality. Nor does it mean something you do not like. For now, you will have to take my word for this. But we will examine fairness from time to time throughout this semester.

Third, you should not bother to tell us how you feel about a topic. Tell us what you think about it. If you can’t think yet, that’s O.K.. Tell us what Aristotle thinks, or Hammurabi thinks, or H.L.A. Hart thinks. Borrow opinions from those whose opinions are worth considering. As Aristotle teaches us in the reading for today, men and women who are enslaved to the passions, who never rise above their animal natures by practicing the virtues, do not have worthwhile opinions. Only the person who exercises practical reason and attains practical wisdom knows how first to live his life, then to order his household, and finally, when he is sufficiently wise and mature, to venture opinions on how to bring order to the political community.

One of my goals for you this semester is that each of you will encounter at least one idea that you find disagreeable and that you will achieve genuine disagreement with that idea. I need to explain what I mean by that because many of you have never been taught how to disagree.

Disagreement is not expressing one’s disapproval of something or expressing that something makes you feel bad or icky. To really disagree with someone’s idea or opinion, you must first understand that idea or opinion. When Socrates tells you that a good life is better than a life in exile you can neither agree nor disagree with that claim without first understanding what he means by “good life” and why he thinks running away from Athens would be unjust. Similarly, if someone expresses a view about abortion, and you do not first take the time to understand what the view is and why the person thinks the view is true, then you cannot disagree with the view, much less reason with that person. You might take offense. You might feel bad that someone holds that view. But you are not reasoning unless you are engaging the merits of the argument, just as Socrates engaged with Crito’s argument that he should flee from Athens.
So, here are three ground rules for the rest of the semester.

1. The only “ism” I ever want to come out your mouth is a syllogism. If I catch you using an “ism” or its analogous “ist” — racist, classist, etc. — then you will not be permitted to continue speaking until you have first identified which “ism” you are guilty of at that very moment. You are not allowed to fault others for being biased or privileged until you have first identified and examined your own biases and privileges.

2. If I catch you this semester using the words “fair,” “diversity,” or “equality,” or a variation on those terms, and you do not stop immediately to explain what you mean, you will lose your privilege to express any further opinions in class until you first demonstrate that you understand three things about the view that you are criticizing.

3. If you ever begin a statement with the words “I feel,” before continuing you must cluck like a chicken or make some other suitable animal sound.
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To their credit, the students received the speech well. And so far this semester, only two students have been required to cluck like chickens.

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Dealing With a Narcissist Without Going Insane – with JP Sears (Video)

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by N.Morgan

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

As defined by the Mayo Clinic: Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultra confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.

A narcissistic personality disorder causes problems in many areas of life, such as relationships, work, school or financial affairs. You may be generally unhappy and disappointed when you’re not given the special favors or admiration you believe you deserve. Others may not enjoy being around you, and you may find your relationships unfulfilling.

Narcissistic personality disorder treatment is centered around talk therapy (psychotherapy).

If you’ve ever had the misfortune of dealing with a narcissist, you know how draining, confusing, and painful it can be.

In intimate relationships, they are controlling, dishonest, abusive, and will undermine their target in any way possible.

In the video below, JP Sears gives insight as to why you may be attracting narcissists into your life and what changes you can make to avoid them

JP also offers some very useful tips on how to deal with narcissists without losing your mind.

JRHow can you effectively deal with a narcissist when you’re in a relationship with one? While narcissism and it’s traits are perhaps the other persons issue, I ask you to challenge yourself by asking, “Why am I a perfect match for the narcissist?” I give you lots of my thoughts in this video to help you help yourself become free from being magnetically stuck to narcissists.

References:

Mayo Clinic

AwakenWithJP (JPSears)

 

Janja Lalich: Why Do People Join Cults? (Videos)

Mind Control

(N.Morgan) – Wikipedia defines a cult as: the term cult usually refers to a social group defined by its religious, spiritual, or philosophical beliefs, or its common interest in a particular personality, object or goal. 

However, that definition leaves out the more sinister side to cults, in which the members are abused and isolated from family and friends, all their assets are taken and the victims are brainwashed into accepting abusive treatment as being part of a particular religion or spiritualism.

Some of the more well known and tragic cults like Heaven’s Gate and Jonestown ended in mass suicides and are examples of how completely people are dedicated to these cults.

What drives people to give up their free will and lives to follow these fanatic and charismatic leaders?

WARNING: GRAPHIC! Jonestown Mass Suicide Tape (Full Recording)

An audio recording made on November 18, 1978, at the People’s Temple compound in Jonestown, Guyana immediately preceding and during the mass suicide and murder of over 900 members of the cult. 

Heaven’s Gate Documentary

This documentary focuses on Heaven’s Gate cult and their mass suicide in 1997. Being led by Marshall Applewhite, Heaven’s Gate cult members believed that their souls would ascend to a spaceship following comet Hale-Bopp and would thereafter be given new bodies. The group members committed mass suicide in their Rancho Santa Fe mansion.

A media circus followed the discovery of their bodies. In the aftermath, commentators and academics discussed how Applewhite persuaded people to follow his commands, including suicide. Some commentators attributed his followers’ willingness to commit suicide to his skill as a manipulator, while others argued that their willingness was due to their faith in the narrative that he constructed.

Currently, there are thousands of cults globally.

In the video below, Janja Lalich discusses how cults recruit and manipulate their members into giving up everything in the name of the cult and what exactly differentiates cults from other groups.

Why do people join cults?

 

[SOURCE]

References:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsooa4yRKGN_zEE8iknghZA

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cult

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonestown

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqLXDoyPnPzwnh4V_wJCm5w

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKnTBWhjasWnma6PWIMDckQ

http://io9.gizmodo.com/the-5-scariest-cults-in-modern-history-1733521100

More Stories Contributed By N. Morgan