Systems indoctrinate, deprecate questioning and doubt, produce reactive citizens, and blame them

(An extension of a few points I mentioned in this video concerning education.)

So-called educational systems teach young students what to believe, how to behave, and perhaps skills deemed necessary—not to question.

(To a considerable degree, teaching what to believe and not to question extends to university students as well, though they are permitted to behave erratically after regimentation in primary and secondary schools.)

Doubt is suspect because dissent is suspect in those systems. They are (after all) fostered, administered, or sponsored by the state, and have also their own bureaucracies, politics, and social agendas, which have attracted both social engineers and bossy types to them. Some came eager for nothing more enlightened than the opportunity to control subordinates or inferiors from positions of petty authority.

Doubt is not admired as a premature form of a scientific and cultural value known as skepticism, as the technological outputs of science are admired. So educational systems, insofar as they devalue questioning and doubt, are disinclined to teach how to question well.

When the instinct to question is acquired later, it arises as a clumsy reaction, based on underdevelopment of how to question—thoroughly, carefully, with reason and suspension of judgment.

Questioning happens as moral reaction, merely inverting, imitating, and rebelling-against. This is because it overturns beliefs that were taught like final values instead of gleanings of provisional knowledge found in the midst of a process of learning—final values instead of non-absolute epistemology, which properly extends all the way from students to experts. (That is to say even an anointed expert in any area of study must not come to believe he or she is done revising or qualifying descriptions of it, having resolved “the truth,” or they are no scientist but a dogmatist.) Such questioning of finality and values needs to have insistence and stubbornness to happen at all.

Debate over knowledge therefore conveys—to the products of this so-called education—only conflict and hostility instead of mutual discovery which science (in the broad sense of any means of knowledge) could bring to mind. Contrary facts don’t appear interesting and potentially valuable, as they do to a learning child, and must to a professional scientist. Facts which seem obvious or even provable to others are not welcomed if they contradict one’s existing beliefs picked up from some source—any source. For whether a fact is later approved by an establishment or heretical to an establishment (or “the experts”) does not prove dispositive of truth when a fact was taken for a tenet. From an early age many facts were introduced as beliefs, implicitly understood as the makings of a value system, and now facts roughly form a personal credo. One does not betray a credo easily, and one answers a challenge defensively. Compare this to the attitude of a scientist who must regularly submit his or her hypothesis to be “broken” by colleagues, and not take it personally.

Empirical science refers to processes (the iterative “scientific method” guiding formation of hypotheses and testing of them, and concrete methods for observation or experiment), and even more importantly to ways of thinking that are not only rigorous, and corrective of personal disposition or attachment (rather than “objective”), but also open to information exchange, and inquisitive. Open and inquisitive habits of thinking must be demonstrated in good faith in order to be learned. The example set by the suppressive method of education remains after any specific fact has been forgotten. The precedent set by intolerance of difficult questions, ongoing for generations now, has been imitated by its pupils, even over the obedience they were supposed to learn.

When even experimental sciences have not been taught as science but imparted, inculcated, by a system of indoctrination, and—when they are addressing adults—the paternalistic state picks up the same didactic method of simplified, rote instruction to which pupils were treated, it is unsurprising how an ostensibly scientific subject like “the efficacy of vaccines” is heard by these ears.

A lifetime of preparation gives the citizen no science independent of politics and moralistic orthodoxy, no tools for independent thought because they were not wanted. And now, the citizen is judged like a child, for being unable to rule himself, to think for himself.


An example of mocking on Twitter. Others ask rhetorically, “where do these people come from?” But the question deserved an answer.

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