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The Newest Manufactroversy

Posted: July 30th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

A few days ago, there was another attack on human rights as President Trump spoke of banning transgender people from the military.  With a growing number of minorities being labeled and legally stripped of their constitutional rights, this is one more assault on individual freedoms.  It is a mind-boggling stance, rejecting and insulting citizens who want to protect our country.  Because there are numerous reputable and disreputable responses emerging, I choose to instead, passionately ask that we begin arming ourselves against the growing number of distortions confronting us and the dangerous implications of swallowing what we are told.  It is time to become educated.  It is time to engage in meaningful dialogue to understand who we are and what it means to live in a civilized society.  We cannot afford to function on autopilot or respond out of our emotions.

In a time filled with blogs (the irony that I am writing a blog as I lament about them is not lost on me), opinion-based programing and the internet, it is harder than ever to know what is trustworthy and valid for consideration.  As Professor Steven Novella stated, “nobody is filtering information for us, so we have to provide our own filters to assess which information out there is reliable and authoritative and which is biased and perhaps even malevolent” (p. 164, 2012).  He and I agree:  critical thinking is imperative.

There are whole workshops based on this skill set but I’m focusing on two core components that are badly needed.  First, we must determine the merit of a given position separate from the person presenting the idea.  Too often, bad leaders seduce us to follow them because of their authority or ability to charm.  Any worthwhile idea should be able to withstand questions and have supporting evidence.  If there is discouragement to challenge, we should already be suspicious.  We must start by looking within our own circles.  For example, how many times have we absorbed the mores of our parents, partners or family without really determining if they are healthy or fit with our individual circumstances, or even true?  There are also institutions that provide further input: schools, churches, and social norms.  Bucking the system will often cause discomfort and resistance but please persist until the informed, wise answer is found.

Secondly, enjoy some good old fashioned skepticism!  Our greatest ally is curiosity.  Find out everything you can, including origins and context.  It is imperative to withhold drawing conclusions until some core information is know.

  • Where does the source come from?  Is it reliable and trustworthy? If a person, is the input in the area of their expertise or an opinion about something else   For example, just because Mel Gibson is an academy award winner does not mean he has good marital advice.  Do other experts share the view or are there conflicting perspectives?
  • What evidence is being used to substantiate the claim?
  • Is there an attempt to persuade?  Does the claimant use inflammatory or emotion to make their case?  This suggests that there might be an underlying agenda that would benefit the source.  I am especially suspect when someone tries to tell me how to perceive them.  “I swear I’m a nice person!”  Why don’t you trust that I would come to that conclusion on my own?
  • The biggest challenge: do I have a bias coming into this? Is there an agenda I’m hoping this reinforces?According to numerous examples in the book “Sway”, we look to confirm what we already know. Even in the face of opposing evidence, there is a human tendency to rationalize our position and dig in our heels.

Our understandings should be fluid and ever-evolving as new information becomes available.  It requires work but we are the greatest protection against blind allegiance and harmful ideologies.  As for our transgender brother and sisters, it is disgusting that you have been made the victims of a manufactroversy.  The allegations are made up but the painful repercussions are all too real.  Here is hoping that masses of wise citizens will stand with you and defend the rights you have struggled for so long to have.

 

To ensure I practice what I preach, here are the sources that I have used to determine my viewpoint: 

The World Professional Organization for Transgender Health  http://www.wpath.org/

American Psychological Association: http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2017/07/transgender-military.aspx

Steven Novella’s Course:  Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills.   Found at www.thegreatcourses.com

Brafman & Brafman (2009).  Sway: the Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior.  New York, NY: Doubleday Publishing.

Aronson, E (2007).  The Social Animal (11th edition).



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Tania Henderson
M.A., L.P.C., N.C.C.