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Why thinking for yourself is the truest freedom.

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[social_warfare]

How Laziness Will Kill Your Chance At Success

There is a famous quote by the late Steve Jobs, which I’m sure we have all heard:

“Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.”

Read this quote to most people, and they are sure to agree with it – however, do they really understand it? Let’s think about it for a second: What is dogma, really? As Jobs states, it is the result of other people’s thinking. Their beliefs, their views on the world, their religious, political, moral acceptances that are (supposed to be) individual to them. But, are we truly free from dogma?

Let’s explore…Where you happen to be born will play a massive role in your views on the world. Think about it, what sports team do you root for…your home team? If so, why? Are you the same religion as your parents? If so, why? If you’re like most of us, you were born into religion X, were taught religion X as “truth,” and subsequently believed in religion X without questioning it, probably for the rest of your life.

This begs the question, have you explored all other religious possibilities to determine if religion X, Y, Z (or ANY religion at all) is right for YOU? Do you truly know what religion X teaches, or have you simply accepted it and have just heard the cherry-picked fluffy loving readings of the books they want you to hear? And if you truly don’t know the history of your religion and others, then how can you possibly be devoted to it? Isn’t this the very definition of being trapped by dogma?

Creating Your Own Business: Where Do I Start?

It’s not easy to speak out about your true feelings and beliefs. It takes courage and willpower to step outside of the box and do your own reading and research to determine if you even “believe” anything that’s asserted to you. This isn’t just the case with religion, but with politics, media, news coverage, advertisements, et cetera. For the sake of our future generations, we must teach them to question everything and think for themselves.

Truth is demonstrated, not asserted.

I am a Boston native. During the Boston bombing attacks, we all fell victim to overzealous and subsequently shoddy reporting from the media. People (myself included) hung on every real-time tweet from multiple sources, often differing and ultimately incorrect. On a smaller scale, I frequently see people sharing stories, photos, “facts” and tips on social media that are fundamentally incorrect.A 30-second Google search (and a little common sense) will tell you that Bill Gates is not really going to give you $5,000 just for sharing a photo. Yet, people jump on the bandwagon and endorse something as truth without doing the slightest bit of research into it.

We are living in an impulsive, instant gratification society full of people who click buttons without realizing they are defining their identity and position on the world by doing so. People who spread falsehoods as truth either willingly, or unwillingly, and don’t take 30 seconds to think about what they’re doing.

We must, as a society, put more thought into our actions, our opinions and our beliefs. The only thing worse than bandwagon fans in sports, are bandwagon thinkers in life. Don’t accept a “cable plan” way of thinking where you subscribe to an entire set of beliefs simply because they all seem to come in a package. You’re better than that.

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Thousands of years of evolution have gifted you with an intelligent, thinking brain which can pick apart each section of life and come up with a specific opinion about them. Use it wisely.

Freethought is a philosophical viewpoint that holds that opinions should be formed on the basis of logic, reason and empiricism and not authority ,tradition or other dogmas. The cognitive application of freethought is known as “freethinking,” and practitioners of freethought are known as “freethinkers.”

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7 Comments

  1. jackblair on June 13, 2013 at 5:29 am

    I wanted to defer to Dr. Harris, because he traditionally tackles these issues, and is an acknowledged authority. But that would violate the inviolable strictures of Freethought.

    Your suggestion that every person should adopt a sports team, hometown, religion, etc., based on “logic, reason, and empiricism” would produce a terminal absurdity – one so profound that the human race would not have survived (or even evolved) to begin with.

    For example, If a man, in an effort to procure him a wife, approached his project logically, reasonably, and empirically, it is a statistical guarantee that he will fail, and thus never reproduce (Sheldon Cooper and Amy Farrah Fowler notwithstanding, and who are fictional characters besides).

    The fact is, we cannot effectively “pick apart each section of life and come up with a specific opinion about them [sic].” Of course we can attempt to do so, and learn quite a bit along the way. But “each section of life” necessarily includes essential abstractions. Consider love, hate, justice, war, peace, charity, and the like. No amount of empiricism, logic, or reason can fully explain or describe these, yet they are without question real and integral.

    We cannot reject one abstraction without rejecting every possible abstraction – and this includes philosophy, religion, theology, spirituality, and yes – God. I encourage you to read The Fatal Conceit by FA Hayek. In this book he masterfully lays out for us the origins and trajectory of human traditions, morality, and institutions (religious, political, and otherwise). He acknowledges that we may not particularly like these realities, feeling that they constrain our freedom; but without them, humanity would not have survived and propagated. These supposed restraints were necessary for human intellectual progress, which eventually conferred on us the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment (of which we are oh-so-proud!). Indeed, they are essential to who and what we are, and man would not have made his appearance on earth without them.

    If “Freetought” were stripped of the influence of authority, traditions, and our received moralities, all we are left with is solipsism. Your description sounds less like “thinking for yourself” and more like “thinking by yourself.”

    I don’t doubt Jobs’s sincerity and convictions. But he did not formulate his worldview in a vacuum. He surely blazed his own trail, but his development was deeply informed by human traditions, dogmas, institutions, and authority. Consider that thousands of years of traditions, morality, religion, institutional development, etc. were necessary to establish the environment in which Jobs (and countless other inventors and visionaries) could thrive. Even something as arcane as contract law depended on the aforementioned thousands of years’ worth of striving, inquiry, scholarship, and practical application.

    Jobs may not have particularly liked this, or even considered it. But it was an inescapable truth for him, and remains so for us.

    • James Michael Sama on June 13, 2013 at 2:09 pm

      Hey Jack, thanks for your well thought out comment.

      I may be doing a less than ideal job at conveying my thoughts here, as I’m not suggesting to strictly use logic and reasoning to choose your favorite sports team, as that is often emotional. However I was trying to illustrate the point that most people get emotionally attached to their “home team” simply as a product of where they were born, as they do with religion.

      There’s a difference between these two subjects in that one is telling you how to live your life and how the world came into being, and it is being asserted as undeniable truth. THIS, I feel, should be questioned and verified.

      To think that one just happened to be born into the “right” religion while billions of others will burn for eternity simply because they were not, is irrational and self centered. To take a step back and say “does this make sense? Do these stories line up with evidence, other historical records, etc?” Is how I feel acceptance of truth should be approached.

      However, I’m just a kid from Boston, so I could be wrong! Once again I appreciate you taking the time to comment and discuss.

      • jackblair on June 14, 2013 at 2:31 pm

        James – I know that Dawkins made a big deal about the “accident of birth” issue recently. I can’t speak for non-Western religious traditions, but the Christian scriptures answered his objection nearly 2000 years ago. See Romans 5:8 and Acts 17:26.

        Also, our Western tradition of inquiry, empiricism, logic, reasoning, etc. is also geographically- and era-specific. Vine Deloria (Sioux “scholar) alerted us to this in his book called Evolution, Creationism, and Other Modern Myths. He points out that this big debate between the New Atheism, Christians, etc., is just the Western tradition arguing with itself. There are “other perspectives” which the West has ignored. Frankly, his book is better left unread, and the “other perspectives” he touts are rightfully ignored.

        So the one or two paragraphs in his otherwise ridiculous book is of some value. Consider that the “Freethinking” insistence that logic, reason, empiricism are supreme is actually quite insular. By an accident of birth we enjoy the benefits of the Enlightenment. I do think that our Western intellectual heritage is indeed superior to all others (white Liberals will now call me all sorts of rude names). But our job is to extend this worldview to cultures which are unfamiliar with it.

        So it is with Christianity. Jesus admonished his followers to spread his message throughout the world. Whether or not one accepts his message is of no concern to me. But he was no dummy – we live in a material universe, subject to all the physical laws and limitations thereof. Global telepathy remains in the realm of fantasy and science fiction. His project required that people tell one another about it.



    • James Michael Sama on June 13, 2013 at 2:46 pm

      Also please excuse my failure to address all of your current points, will have more time later today when I can do so.

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