Critical Thinking is Missing From Academics
In this article, Part 1 of a series about The Problem with Education, I discuss why the academic system, for the most part, glaringly fails to provide real education. I will delineate the problems with the global education system today. Albert Einstein once stated, “The value of an education … is not the learning of many facts, but the training of the mind to think something that cannot be learned from textbooks.” (Source: Frank, Phillip. Einstein, His Life and Times. Boston: De Capo Press, 2002.) Unfortunately, nearly all traditional academic universities, no matter in which nation they are located, have devolved into primarily the learning of facts, and often, the teaching of theories as “facts” that are not even facts. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule, but the exceptions are a minute amount of institutions among a sea of institutions that are managed more like businesses with much more concern for profits than in the education of its students. Even though I attended “top-tier” universities for both my undergraduate and graduate academic pursuits, I later discovered that 99% of the “facts” I learned about the monetary and banking system and about the gold standard were completely wrong. And worse yet, not only were the “facts” I learned of zero utility, but they actually prevented me from understanding how finance and capital markets operated for years after I graduated, as these same false concepts were reinforced in the work environment, as I was naïve enough to believe that what I had learned in school was truthful. I highly encourage all of you to listen to my podcast titled “Drawing Back the Veil on Universal Truth” posted on 19 February 2019. In this podcast, I discuss the difficulty of convincing career academics of the truth.
I specifically discuss conversations I had with an engineer that scoffed and laughed at me when I told him that scientific consensus now leaned towards the opinion that gravity was not a force but a curvature in the space-time fabric. Even after I told him that this belief became the consensus in the scientific community after Albert Einstein proposed the anti-force gravitational theory in his General Relativity of Theory in 1915, simply because the engineer had learned in school that gravity was a force and not a curvature in space-time, as most students do when confronted with information that opposes something they learned in school, he expressed utter disdain for any information that opposed something he had learned in school, much as a brainwashed cult member would blindly obey his or her cult leader. He reacted by telling me, that he, of all people, should clearly understand the definition of gravity, and that I should not be trying to explain gravity to him as someone that majored in a completely different subject matter in school. He further lectured me that the General Relativity of Theory had “nothing to do” with gravity, a completely inaccurate statement, and he continued his rant by falsely stating that gravity was a constant force of exactly 9.81 meters per squared second that never deviated from this exact measurement anywhere on earth’s surface.
Indeed, there is a force of acceleration of 9.81 meters per squared second near the earth’s surface, but this force of acceleration is certainly not an immutable force as the engineer stated. For example, the force of acceleration is greater than 9.81 meters on Mount Everest due to the thinner atmosphere that exists at higher altitudes and slightly less than this rate in certain areas of the Indian Ocean, and certainly both of those locations qualify as a part of earth’s surface. Furthermore, just because a force of acceleration exists does not mean that this force is the same as the concept of gravity, even though the engineer insisted that the force of acceleration and gravity were the same because Isaac Newton postulated a theory of gravity that described it as a force. Again, the engineer referenced that learning about Newton’s theory of gravity in school served as proof that he was indisputably correct about the nature of gravity being a force. My conversation with this engineer, in which it literally was impossible to convince him to consider a position that opposed information he had learned in school, demonstrated everything that is wrong with education today. Due to the social conditioning that accompanies all schooling, students that are “educated” within academic settings today do not know how to challenge their own belief systems properly nor do they understand how to form an intelligent defense of their own beliefs. Instead, when engaged in conversations similar to the above, time after time, many students express disdain and mockery for concepts that oppose anything they learn in school based upon emotions instead of consideration of facts and roundly fail to exercise curiosity to new concepts that may challenge beliefs they learned in school.
Far too many graduates of the traditional institutional education system believe that schooling elevates their intellect versus the reality that schooling behaviorally conditions a student by focusing his or her “learning” on the memorization of lots of information and formulas. When I continued my debate about gravity with this engineer, even when it became crystal clear that I had studied the concept of gravity to a far greater degree than the one hour in school in which he had been taught Newton’s gravitational theory and then proceeded to solve numerous problems using Newton’s gravitational formula, the engineer still refused to budge in his insistence that gravity was an unwavering constant of 9.81 meters per squared second. In fact, even when I encouraged him to fact-check Einstein’s gravitational theory that directly contradicted Isaac Newton’s postulation of gravity as a force, the engineer responded by saying there was no need to fact-check anything, because he already knew he was correct and that I was wrong. Unfortunately, this inflexible thought process is not uncommon among many recent university and college graduates.
Facts are Dismissed for Emotions
I have encountered this same attitude with dozens of business students when discussing business concepts about market forces that control asset price behavior, the gold standard, and the creation of fiat currencies, all of which are subjects taught incorrectly in business school programs all around the world. However, once students have learned something in school, I have discovered that it is near impossible to convince many among them to consider a viewpoint that opposes the narrative that they learned in school. In fact, the New Yorker magazine ran an article written by Elizabeth Kolbert on 19 February 2017 called “Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds”, in which Ms. Kolbert discussed this harmful and growing trend, but mainly attributed such foolish behavior to psychological constructs rather than academic constructs. Though I agree that psychological constructs, like confirmation bias, play a role in people’s stubbornness and refusal to believe facts over false information they learned in school, I attribute the majority of this type of behavior to an inherent problem with our global educational system – the failure to educate young adults and the failure to develop critical thinking skills among young adults that gives rise to arguments later in life entirely based upon emotion and an absence of facts and evidence. You may simply listen to my podcast “Drawing Back the Veil on Universal Truth” if you desire to learn more about why and how universities encourage and promote inflexibility in critical thinking skills that kills intellect and makes all attending students dumber by the time they graduate.
A journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin, Dr. Mercedes Lynn de Uriarte, taught me one of my most valuable lessons in life at a young age. In my elective graduate-level journalism class, which consisted of a small group of about a dozen students, all of the students except one frequently reached a consensus on nearly every single topic discussed in the academic classroom setting. At times, many of the students in my class ganged up on the one student that had a differing opinion from the rest of us. Dr. Uriarte admonished all of us for ganging up on the one dissenting voice, pointing out that a room full of people with consenting opinions could often leave everyone ignorant, and that the one person that offered a dissenting voice was the most valuable person in the room. She lauded the one dissenting voice, right or wrong, as being the most important voice, as this voice was the only one that challenged the rest of us to develop our critical thinking skills and to intelligently defend our positions on a regular basis. Even under the conditions in which he was proven to be wrong, he forced all of us to be able to provide intelligent defenses of our positions, which would have never happened without a dissenting voice.
The Growing Student Rebellion Against Thinking
Though I largely blame schooling for the rapid dumbing down of society for its failure to provide the most important pillars of education to young students inside classrooms, I can neither ignore the contribution of exploding rates of social media use and adoption to the dumbing down of society. Consider this video of a Yale University student, Jerelyn Luther, who screamed in outrage at a professor, “It’s your job to create a place of comfort and home for the students!” in response to the professor’s suggestion that students should have an open dialogue with one another about potentially culturally inappropriate Halloween costumes instead of outright banning certain costumes during Halloween celebrations on Yale’s campus. It is neither the job of a professor or the university President to create a place of comfort and home for students. If a student believes that it’s the job of a professor to create a place of comfort and home for him or her, then he or she should have never enrolled in a university. The professor argued that his position was not based on tolerance for racism but simply based upon his belief that students would learn more by not enforcing a policy of censorship and consequently having opportunities to have open dialogues with one another about any Halloween costume worn by a student that some may deem as “culturally inappropriate.” Though this was a perfectly rational and reasonable argument in defense of his position, the student’s plea for censorship and the professor’s refusal to cave in to this student’s demands to be coddled resulted in Yale administrators forcing the professor to resign from a position he held as a student mentor. This action by university administrators, which was repeated across American university campuses in response to professors that refused to coddle their students, is just another symptom of everything wrong with the education system today.
Furthermore, it reinforces my assertion that university administrators are not concerned with educating students but only of losing profits if their clients (students) withdraw from their universities. As another example of university administrators that coddle their students to protect profits instead of forcing them to face situations of discomfort that would further their learning and critical thinking skills, Harvard University law professor Jeannie Suk relayed that students had strongly pressured her not to include any questions about rape law on her exams due to students’ complaint that the word “rape” conjured up feelings of discomfort among them. She relayed another story in which a colleague of hers was warned by a student not to use the world “violate” in her lectures due to the violent connotation of the word that triggered feelings of discomfort among this particular student. Consequently, one can certainly blame students, not just university administrators, for being complicit in the devolution of classroom settings into environments in which critical thinking is not allowed.
Universities were already horribly deficient in their duty to facilitate critical thinking skills in its students for decades and as difficult as it may be to believe that the situation has degenerated further, all evidence points to this development. Today, the “educational” environment within university campuses have degenerated to such a degree that some students believe that college campuses should provide “safe spaces” for them in which their current belief systems are never challenged. The job of a university professor, as so aptly pointed out by my former professor Dr. Uriarte, is to provide a learning environment that challenges the comfort level of all students and deliberately introduces discomfort in order to develop their critical thinking skills, I applaud every professor that fulfills this duty as those that do are becoming somewhat of an endangered species. Due to recent well publicized cases, professors that would have challenged irrational positions raised by students in their classes now curb their tongues and engage in self-censorship in fear of being reprimanded by university administrators and perhaps even losing their job for fulfilling their role as an educator. However, even though academics has done a fine job on its own of dumbing down the next generation of young adults, the rapid growth of social media use and adoption among young adults has served as lighter fluid for the “dumbing down of society” fire started by the institution of academics.
High Social Media Engagement is Dumbing Down Young Adults
According to a 2016 study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, social media engagement of Facebook and Instagram specifically engages and targets regions of the brain like the nucleus accumbens that reinforce emotional responses in the brain while negating activity in the regions of the brain responsible for critical thinking skills. I believe social media’s success in rewiring the brains of young adults to increasingly engage emotional behaviors that dumb down our emotional intelligence, combined with decades of busy work dispensed inside school classrooms that never connects knowledge with real world application and fails to develop intellect, is largely responsible for the mass creation of young adults that increasingly rely upon emotions and the marginalization of facts as their preferred methodology of argument. If school and universities around the world were indeed educating young students, this situation would not exist today, so the very existence of this conundrum is evidence that universities around the world are failing to educate their students.
If we examine the radical shifts happening in wealth distribution in every country in the world today, in which the über wealthy class is becoming even wealthier while the middle class is rapidly shrinking and falling into the ranks of the poor, there is no doubt that something is fundamentally wrong with the pillars of capital markets, banking and money in every nation as well. According to studies conducted by Oxfam, in 2010 the richest 388 people owned the same wealth as half of the entire world. By 2015, this number had shrunk to just 80 people. By 2016, Oxfam predicted, based upon the current trending data, that the richest 1% of people on planet Earth would own the same wealth as the rest of the 7.3 billion people. By 2017, Oxfam reported a further consolidation of wealth at the top of the wealth pyramid, in which the number of billionaires that owned the same wealth as the bottom half of the world’s population had shrunk from 388 billionaires in 2010 to just 8 billionaires. Obviously, these massive disparities in wealth are not created by the ingenuity of 8 people that worked a trillion times harder than nearly 4 billion other people. Common sense would inform us that there is no level of ingenuity and hard work that would allow 8 people to accumulate the same amount of wealth as nearly 4 billion people, and that there must be some inherent flaw built into the global monetary and banking system that provides not slight, but enormous advantages, that would allow just 8 people to hoard such an obscene proportion of the entire world’s wealth just for themselves.
MBA Graduates Still Don’t Understand Real World Banking and Finance Mechanisms
Yet, when I’ve asked MBA graduates from numerous nations, including Switzerland, India, the United States, Canada, Thailand, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Korea, Germany, and France, I have yet to meet a single one that can properly explain, in a lucid manner, the advantages built into the global monetary and economic system that enables such disparity in wealth accumulation to materialize so easily. The answer, despite billionaires like Gina Rineheart of Australia that would like the 7.6 billion inhabitants of planet Earth to believe that the reason 0.00000021% of the world’s population are able to hoard as much wealth as nearly 4 billion is mere effort, the answer to this question is not hard work. There are definitive, unfair and immoral advantageous built into the global monetary and economic system that specifically ensure that the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer that has no relation to hard work. If our schooling system and advanced programs like MBA programs truly educate young adults, why have I never met an MBA graduate from any nation that was able to delineate and clearly explain these advantages, including graduates from the top programs in the world? Given that I graduated from an Ivy League school, I have frequently encountered Wharton, Harvard, MIT and Stanford MBAs and economic majors but yet have never met a single one that was able to explain the injustices built into the global banking and monetary system that give rise to massive wealth inequality.
Of course, there will always be people that grind harder and put in much more work than others. However, this behavior neither guarantees their financial security nor a rise to the top socioeconomic levels of their communities, even when combined with superior intellect, such is the nature of how the global banking and monetary system has been unfairly rigged (as a clue, the problem is not free market capitalism, as has become a common narrative today as well). Perhaps, just as was the case with the above examples I’ve used with engineering programs and law programs, academic business program administrators around the world miserably fail to educate students about how the real world operates, but only “educate” them to believe what the benefactors of these top global business schools want the students that attend these schools to believe.
Consequently, a business student will never learn the truths about the global banking and monetary system constructs that enable the über wealthy to transfer wealth from nearly every other living human being to themselves. In my skwealthacademy, you will learn the elements of the immoral global banking and monetary system that enable and encourage the creation of this massive wealth disparity through the use of real world examples in which I illustrate the systemic advantages imbedded into the global banking and monetary system granted to the über rich that are never granted to the middle class and poor. Some people may ask, “What is the point of this knowledge if we cannot benefit from it? If we have no access to these elements of the global banking system, what utility does this knowledge have?” My response is that while there may be some truth to this objection, this objection is not completely true. To begin, knowledge of how the banking and monetary system has imbedded systemic advantages available only to the über rich enables us to avoid wealth destructive scams often perpetrated upon the middle class and poor by global bankers.
Consequently, understanding information that helps us avoid scams is invaluable. Secondly, understanding the immorality of our current global banking and monetary system (and I know of no one that truly understands the inner-workings of the global banking system that would refute any claim of its immorality) enables those that want to return the power to the people to fight for real solutions, instead of fighting for false ones like anti-capitalism and pro-socialism or even social democratic movements. Understanding banking and monetary truths hidden from academic curricula all over the world is important to building a better world for everyone as wasted energy in unsustainable movements that result from misunderstandings about how our global banking and monetary systems operate, while backed by good intentions, provide no sustainable positive results for the future of mankind.
In listening to the arguments of the rare Senator or Parliament Member of various nations that sincerely desire to help the people, as a few do exist, I have yet to agree with a single one of their proposed solutions, all of which I believe are heavily misguided due to the poor level of education about money and banking that all of us receive in school. It is impossible for anyone to be highly educated about money, capital markets and banking that has not engaged in years of self-education that is completely independent from the global academic system. Wrong knowledge will always lead to wrong solutions, so if we desire right solutions, we need to correct the widespread and prolific misunderstandings about money and banking that correctly exist in every nation around the world. Thus, understanding this knowledge, even if we cannot use it for selfish reasons to become rich, is ultimately important to everyone that desires to build a better future for humanity in which all life, whether the lives of poor, middle-class, or wealthy, are viewed as equally important.
The Funders of Business School Curricula Want to Keep Certain Knowledge Hidden from Students
There currently is a very organized and deliberate effort by the banking and political class to mislead us about the truth regarding the operations of currency markets, stock markets, commodity markets, real estate markets and the banking industry. I learned this very quickly after graduating from an MBA program and entering the global banking industry, when I learned that virtually nothing I learned in my MBA program truthfully explained how markets set asset prices and moved asset prices up and down in the real world. And for the first year or two of my post-academic career, before I was exposed to the real inner-workings of global financial markets, I behaved exactly like the engineer that I discussed earlier in this article. I believed that because I had graduated from an Ivy League university and was awarded not just an MBA but two master degrees, that my superior academic pedigree granted me an understanding that was unparalleled by those with a lesser academic pedigree. Only after I was faced with overwhelming evidence of the near zero utility of my MBA “education” in the real world could I finally admit that nearly everything I had learned about the global monetary, banking and financial system in school was completely wrong. Furthermore, even after I realized this, it took a couple more years for me to acknowledge that the spread of disinformation regarding the above mentioned business subjects in school classrooms all around the world was deliberate and calculated.
One reason, monetary and banking truth is kept absent from all business school curricula today is because knowledge of such truths plants the seeds of dissent, revolution and monetary freedom. This is not a state of the world that anyone at the top echelons of military, government and banking desire. The easiest, most efficient way for bankers to control a nation’s citizenry is to enforce a strict monopoly over the nation’s monetary supply and to disallow all monetary competition (which immediately should raise serious questions about the legitimacy of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin as a valid anti-banking form of money, though one is likely to receive fierce opposition to this possibility with the majority of cryptocurrency advocates). If the French government laments the volume of Yellow Vest protestors they have witnessing in their streets for the entirety of 2019 up until this point, were financial and monetary truth taught in academic classrooms, they would observe the number of protestors grow tenfold overnight.
Most of us do not understand that the world’s wealthiest Industrialists implemented mass compulsory institutional schooling during the Industrial Revolution in the late 1700s to early 1800s as a means to fulfill their need for a steady supply of obedient and compliant factory workers, and not because they wished to produce a smarter, more educated society. If we realize that this was the original intent of mass schooling, then it becomes infinitely easier to connect the dots and not to rest on the false and hollow laurels of graduating from a top-tier school as the answer in every debate as to why one is correct. Unfortunately, the only teachers today that realize that they are complicit partners in an academic system designed to strip away critical thinking skills and replace critical thought, ingenuity and creativity with blind obedience and compliance to authority are the ones that have taken the time to educate themselves about the origins and history of the global academic system, another subject that should be mandatory in every school at every level but is absent.
We should give thanks for the outstanding teachers and students that somehow manage to still survive and flourish within an academic system designed to curtail creativity, independent thought and individualism; however, these rare teachers and students are unfortunately insufficient in numbers to adequately overcome the design flaws of a global education system designed to dumb down young adults. Instead, the entire global system of schooling must be completely overhauled if we are to have any chance of reinstating a mission of providing real, useful education to students.
To learn more about the impending launch date of skwealthacademy, a comprehensive online academy constructed to address all the problems with education today, please visit us at maalamalama.com.
About the author: J. Kim is the Founder, Managing Director, and Chief Education Officer of skwealthacademy, the culmination of a ten-year long passion project consisting of a complete online academy of 20 courses that specifically address essential pillars of education absent in modern academic classrooms today such as reasoning and critical thinking development, how to apply knowledge in the real world, and the consideration of humanitarian, holistic perspectives about wealth and success. Among the elements critical to education, largely absent in academic classrooms, addressed by skwealthacademy, are the following: (1) critical thinking development and ethical responsibility in how corporate profits are pursued; (2) understanding of the differences between unsound fiat currencies and sound money, and how this misunderstanding contributes to the persistence of great suffering in the form of global poverty and hunger; and (3) the elevation of life purpose as a viable goal to grant meaning to life and to replace materialistic pursuits that create elevated levels of loneliness, anxiety and opioid dependence.
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