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S.M.A.R.T. and S.T.U.P.I.D.: Teaching My Child HOW to Think - Part 5

Updated: Oct 5, 2020

S = Snap

T = Total

U = Unquestioned

P = Passive

I = Ideologically Filtered

D = Dogmatic

Sign #4 of S.T.U.P.I.D. Thinking

P = Passive Judgments

The fourth sign that alerts me to my own S.T.U.P.I.D. thinking is when my judgments are passive.

Snap judgments.

Total judgments.

Unquestioned judgments.

Passive judgments.

We don't even realize it, but when we make snap, total, and unquestioned judgments, THEY ARE NOT OUR JUDGMENTS. We are passive in this process. We have accepted the judgment of ANOTHER.

We have outsourced our thinking to someone else. Someone is telling us WHAT to think.

Non-thinking people do not proactively research, interview, and investigate all the available data for themselves. Instead, we take the word of someone else we consider an “expert” or "authority."

And WHY do we do we put trust in another’s take on something?

Because maybe they DO know more about something.

But how much more?

In my journey, I remember first starting Bible College. As a wide-eyed, insecure, impressionable 18-year-old, the professors and the pastor seemed larger than life to me. They “knew so much.” And I devoured almost everything they taught me.

But in time, the knowledge gap between me and my Bible teachers began to close. I was rising up the Bible knowledge hierarchy. In time, I was also a teacher. I was a contemporary and colleague.

And what I’m about to say, is not being as disrespectful as it sounds. When my knowledge began to rival the level of my teachers, I was awakened to a harsh reality. Those I was in awe of as an 18-year-old, were not as smart as I thought they were. They were not the “experts” that I thought.

There was so much they didn’t know. There were so many gaps in their understanding. They had many blind spots in their perspectives. And they had biases.

What is a bias?

Let me give you two more acronyms. A bias is this:

· Believing

· Is

· Automatically

· Seeing

Or, a bias is:

· Believing

· I

· Am

· Superior (or Smarter)

I began to notice that the professors who taught me were as human as I was. They were as bias as I was. They were as clouded in their judgment as I was. That for them, interpreting the Bible was never a matter of “go to the evidence, and follow the truth wherever it leads” – and whatever the consequences.

Because the consequences of thinking for yourself and having an “out of the box” view could mean many things.

Getting fired.

Losing your means of money-making and survival.

Being branded a heretic or an apostate.

Excommunication from the group.

Losing your marriage.

Leaving your religion.

Having to reinvent yourself.

Struggling to find another means of living.

For my professors, humbly studying Biblical data and interpreting it correctly, was NOT a matter of “seeing is believing.” But instead, “believing was seeing.” Bias clouded their judgment.

For them, believing is automatically seeing.

The professors who taught me were more loyal to tribe than to truth. There were “Biblical positions” they HAD to come to if they wanted to stay part of our particular Christian tribe.

SCC was an independent, fundamental Baptist institution. My professors could “prove” from the Bible anything they wanted to in order to make this worldview the truth. They could “prove” that “God was on our side” of given issues.

My professors and our pastor knew how to put together a package of verses from the Bible – regardless of context – in order to be “right.” They knew how to start with a conclusion, then go to the Biblical data, and then twist and harmonize it to fit the pre-determined conclusions.

What pre-determined conclusions?

All of the doctrines and ethical rules that are near and dear to Independent, Fundamental Baptists (IFB).

My professors’ views, perspectives, and judgments were clouded by this IFB bias. Bias that was shaped by their religious tribe. Biases that caused them to begin with conclusions instead of end with them. Biases that caused them to unconsciously twist and harmonize data so our Independent Baptist “team” would win.

Were these horrible men?

To the contrary, they were great guys on multiple levels. It’s not a “good guy” issue. It’s a truth issue. And everybody is, what he or she is, because they had to become that – in order to survive. Including my professors.

I do not question the sincerity of my professors for one minute. I do not question the purity of their intentions. I do not question that that they were “good” men – whatever that means.

But I’m not sure I would categorize them as “free-thinkers” or “truth seekers.”

Today, I think it is reasonable to say that I know more about the Bible than 99% of the world. That 1% still leaves tens of millions of people who may know more about the Bible than I do. I do not say this to brag. I mention this only to say that I know what it is to be an “expert.” To have hundreds of people hanging on my every word. Most passively drinking in all the information coming out of my mouth as the 100% truth.

This is painful.

I look back years later and say to myself, “How much disinformation did I spread during my 15 years as a professor and pastor – IN MY SPECIFIC AREA OF EXPERTISE?” Someone who was “educated.” Someone who was “credentialed.” Someone who was an “authority.” Someone who was an “expert.”

This has been a hard lesson, but a valuable one.

I’ve learned to refuse being passive in the thinking and learning process. To never, and I mean never, be intimidated by someone throwing out their impressive sounding titles, educational backgrounds, and credentials.

They don’t know it all – not even close. Even in their areas of specific “expertise.”

Information dominators are human. They have extreme limits in their knowledge. They have wide gaps in their understanding. There are numerous questions they cannot even begin to answer – in their field of expertise. They have blind spots. They have biases. They have a subjective side that roots for what they want to be true. They rarely, if ever, think critically about their own tribe and the “truths” they have been taught.

And they too, have dominators over them. Dominators who pay their salary. Dominators they are dependent upon to survive.

NEVER passively sit back and let someone else do your thinking for you.

Dominators are very dangerous people. Because they always indoctrinators. Their domination depends on their ability to teach you WHAT to think.

Dominators want you to be passive in the learning process. They want their positions to be your positions. They want their views to be your views. They want their judgments to be your judgments.

Never be passive in your thinking or judgments.

Make no mistake, attractive, smart, and articulate people can be the most dangerous people in the world. And every rival religious and political group has possessed charismatic personalities. Human alphas who can persuasively and eloquently state the "way the world should be" from their perspective.

But charismatic, attractive, smart, and eloquent does NOT mean honest with data.

Charismatic, attractive, smart, and eloquent does NOT mean good.

Charismatic, attractive, smart, and eloquent does NOT mean wise.

Charismatic, attractive, smart, and eloquent does NOT mean truth.

Reject being passive in the thinking process. Reject making passive judgments. Never let someone do your thinking for you.

Next time: S.M.A.R.T. and S.T.U.P.I.D.: Teaching My Child How to Think - Part 6.

The fifth sign of S.T.U.P.I.D. thinking.

I = Ideologically filtered judgments.

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