This morning as I reflected on sunrise in the window of our family room, I had a muddle of thoughts that needed separation. I had just gotten done reading a blog comment by Rob Kailey regarding the writing of Don Progreba in which Kailey said that Progreba had offered a “distinct and well-argued opinion.”
The words that passed through my mind were “groupthink,” “trusted sources,” “Godwin,” “thought control,” and “wedge issues.” You can see why it is a muddle.
Critical thinking is much like art and beauty in our country – each person has a view of it that he holds sacrosanct. Consequently, we have trouble defining it. Progreba refers to himself a as a critical thinker. He is not that, not hardly.
Part of the problem is that there is so little of it around. We are, as Ron Paul reminds us, living in an Empire of Lies where truth is seen as a form of treason. True critical thinkers have been driven underground, and are subject to ridicule as “conspiracy theorists” and the like. The mere matter of the Paris attacks, easily seen to be false flag, are credulously accepted by Progreba as fact. The matter passes from media to his brain unimpeded by the thought process. That is critical thinking, Pogie-style, and as done in America.
Much of the reputation for critical thought rests on the forum on which it is displayed. Both Progreba and Kailey are insulated, and want it that way. They fear critics, but far more than that are unable to self-reflect. They are moral cowards, and shield themselves as much as possible from encounters with critics. Progreba, for example, rarely engages critics.
One brief line from his rant exhibits a clue into his makeup that
“…You can usually spot them in the wild by their reliance on entirely absurd sources, their credulous acceptance of the most juvenile conspiracy theory, their use of words like “sheeple,…”
Trusted sources are important to Don, that is, he does not tax his brain to evaluate evidence, and instead relies on the expertise of others, saving himself the trouble. He lets others do his thinking for him, and to be frank, others are better at it.
Casual dismissal of “conspiracy theories” is another shortcut – rather than face and evaluate evidence, a trying and troublesome enterprise, it is easier to dismiss based on a meme long ago provided by CIA to help people avoid thinking.
That, to Don Progreba, is critical thinking. He hasn’t a clue what it is. Never has.
Don’s reliance only on trusted sources brings us to another aspect of his personality, and a characteristic of his blog, “groupthink.” Here’s a definition from the sometimes reliable Wikipedia (though one must use one’s brain in judging that source due to so many back doors for manipulation of entries):
…a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative viewpoints, by actively suppressing dissenting viewpoints, and by isolating themselves from outside influences.
The blog “Intelligent Discontent”is a groupthink enterprise based on the emboldened words in this definition. All too often commenters there pass on sloppy compliments to one another citing “good journalism” or “good writing” knowing that the words fall on accepting ears. Norma Duffy, for instance, can hardly think her way out of a grocery deli. She insults people, goes on long and stupid rants, and is a welcome commenter at ID. She routinely violates his comment moderation’s rules, but pays no price because she sucks up to Pogie.
Critics are shut out. Progreba seeks to insulate himself from critics by banning those he does not like, refusing to read comments in general, and rarely offering himself out for public display at other blogs.
Which is why Progreba does not understand wedge politics. It has been explained to him, but he does not read his critics. In his piece he sets himself on a high perch, and talks of his own moral superiority in having genuine compassion for gays and those who need abortions. Whadda guy.
That’s really easy to do. I doubt his words, I don’t sense him to be a man of compassion, since he is so mean to critics. But set that aside. Wedge politics has nothing to do with the inherent worth of issues, but rather the attitudes of political leaders about the issues. If the leadership does not care about the outcome of an issue, then free discussion is allowed. And indeed, our oligarchs, who cannot be affected by any legislation on these matters, are willing to let it play out in the theater of politics because
- Wedge issues distract people from important issues,
- Wedge issues absorb time and energy, and
- Wedge issues are easily put on the shelf after elections and ignored.
Think about it … Roe v Wade was 1971, and we’ve been debating the matter now for 44 years! Why? It’s the crown jewel of wedge politics.
“Thought control” is a beautiful subject, and I have invested countless hours reading people of solid mind on this subject, starting with Jacques Ellul and working my way though George Orwell (all of his work, not just the popular ones), Alex Carey, Noam Chomsky*, Walter Lippman and Reinhold Niebuhr. I am currently reading Frances Stonor Saunders on the CIA and its influence over arts and letters. I have actually read these people and tried to understand how our society produces low-level thinkers like Progreba who fancy themselves critical thinkers.
My conclusion: Thought control comes about by means of groupthink, servility to authority figures, fear of sources that are seen to be non-conformist, and useful memes like “conspiracy theorist” and “Godwin’s Law.” Don Progreba is a victim of thought control. Because it is done so well and is pervasive in our society, he does not know it.
I threw in Godwin’s Law because in my other readings over the years have come to realize that we are infested by neo-Nazis, and really need to talk about them. It was neo-Nazis that overthrew the government of Ukraine and who are currently terrorizing Syria, along with every other U.S. attack on every other country since the end of World War II. But a thought control device, Godwin’s Law, operates to shield them. Brilliant!
Those of us who escape and learn to use our own brains and trust our own judgment are subject to ridicule. And honestly, it is infuriating to see a man of low caliber as Progreba pissing down on us from his high perch. Far too many words have been written about him. But the bottom line is this: He is arrogant and stupid, mean and vindictive. But he is also passive aggressive, and knows how to work a needle to infuriate people.
Passive aggressive, arrogant, mean, stupid, and a teacher.
*Progreba has, I think, read one book by Chomsky, which he assigned to his class, thereby sealing his self-imagined creds as a big-balled teacher. I’d be curious to know which one it was.