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Daily Pickings is a blog on issues and events related to the work of the Critical Thinking project and invariably references videos, articles, books and academic papers. Accumulation of these materials adds to the "Critical Thinking reference library". Use the search facility to find articles on specific topics or you can browse the titles of every Dailly Pickings article since inception via the Site Map for which you need to be registered.
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Critical Thinking is a collaborative, educational project relying on contributions from diverse sources.

Alternative American perspectives

Daily Pickings has covered the mendacity of mainstream news sources and pointed to a number of alternatives, particularly UK Column. It provides a UK perspective and is an honest alternative to the BBC which, according to an independent survey, is distrusted by 83% of people in the UK.

We've recently been alerted to a US source of alternative news which is punchy and honest.

So, if you're looking for a daily "fix" of current news, The Last American Vagabond and UK Column are good places to start.

"Breaking News" is not the best way to understand the world, we need deeper and wider perspectives but once we have those perspectives, it is easier to discriminate between fake news and sources which focus on trying to get to the truth of events and issues.

Habits and assumptions

So much of what Critical Thinking entails is "unlearning" and breaking the habits of a lifetime, those default responses and assumptions we've come to rely on. We cannot rely on them because they are built on layers of lies and deception. Consequently, in our communications (verbal and written) we run the risk of conflation by mixing lies with truth. Thus we need to be circumspect and apply tentative conviction when developing or expressing views or opinions.

Try Learning Not to Ride a Bicycle So We Can Save the World by Edward Curtin
As a sociologist, I teach my students that sociology is the study of our social habits of thought, speech, and action.  These habits or routines, which often become crystalized into myths and institutions, imprison us in ways we are loath to admit.  Our collective mental habits are so powerful because they lie far deeper than mere thought can reach, and therefore to break them is as difficult as learning how not to ride a bicycle after years of knowing how.  Where does one begin?
George Orwell once observed that “we have sunk to a depth at which re-statement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.”

In practical terms, we need to jettison or set aside all previous convictions and assumptions to consider information afresh - start with a clean slate.

One essential challenge we face relates to our understanding of economics and banking. Banking has given the "keys to the kingdom" of our existence to those who benefit from our enslavement.

Shifting from Central Planning to a Decentralised Economy: Do we Need Central Banks? by Richard Werner
We are all familiar with parts or all of this central bank narrative, even if we are not trained economists or not commonly interested in economic issues: This is because this narrative has been repeated ad nauseam hundreds of times in the past four decades. As a result, even astute observers assume that empirical research has long established these five insights from the central bankers, in uncountable meticulous quantitative research studies.
But this is not the case. The truth could not be further from it: There is in fact no empirical evidence to support any of these five claims. They are mere assertions. Claims that have, in fact, been disproven by the facts. There is overwhelming evidence to the contrary, and this has become increasingly obvious since the 2008 financial crisis.

Richard's article takes us to one level of abstraction but this issue goes much deeper, to the very essence of banking itself and what it is built upon, usury.

But even study of usury is not enough because what lies deeper than usury is hierarchy; why do we abdicate responsibility for ourselves and our relationships with others to a "higher authority", be it a bank, a monarch, a priest, a government, an expert or anyone else? Once we question hierarchy, we're into how we have been trained to think and the very essence of what it is to be human.

In short, our journey of discovery takes as through layers of abstraction, from the exoteric (that which is visible) to the esoteric (the mystical and spiritual); that is the journey we, and a growing number of people, are on. 

21st century plague

This powerful piece neatly sums up the growing sense of outrage.

21st Century Plague by MarkGB
The Black Death was a medieval pandemic which swept through the ‘old world’ in the 14th Century.  It arrived in Europe from Asia in the 1340s and killed an estimated 25 million people, about 50% of the population. The social and economic consequences of this were ‘permanent’: it created a labour shortage which ended the medieval institution of serfdom.
In short: Increased demand for labour + reduced supply of labour + chaos = collapse of status quo.
What emerged from the chaos was a rudimentary ‘free market’ in labour and goods. The age of capitalism had begun…
The pandemic we face in the 21st Century is a psychological phenomenon rather than a biological one, but in my view, it is equally parasitic. Its name is ‘deceit’, and our political & economic institutions are riddled with it.

This plague has had a long incubation (millennia) and has been evident in preceding centuries but arguably it really took hold at the beginning of the last century, when the levers of power and those who control them began to collude in an unprecedented fashion. This centalised power is referred to in Critical Thinking's analysis as the Structural Elite, the beneficiaries and architects of this corrosive, abusive and destructive political economy.

Lies gained precedence over truth through control of politics, media and academia which, in the 20th century, brought about a revolution and two world wars to destroy major impediments to Anglo-American power, Russia and Germany.

Structural Elite power has its origins in theft of the commons but what unified it was control of money through usury. These two unnatural means of exploitation are what underpins hierarchy, the third flaw in today's political economy.

Our ignorance of the embedded deceit is the source our pain and destruction.

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The most subversive question, why?

This powerful speech from the recent Imperialism on Trial event in Derry is flawed to the extent that it perpetuates some myths associated with left wing ideology - left/right are two sides of the same coin of centralised power - but nonetheless resonates with truth in its critique of the ruling classes and the prevailing narrative of the self-righteous. John Wight asks the most subversive question, why?

In opposing the evil consequences of imperialism and the current political economy, we invariably run the risk of conflation and confusion as half-truths and misconceptions cloud judgement and clarity. In critiquing concentrated power, its motivation and consequences, we're apt to polarise between binary concepts of right and wrong, good and evil etc. In reality our world is infinitely more complex and nuanced. So in seeking to understand our world, we must be open to the idea that concepts and tools associated with power are not inherently good or evil; understanding the importance of mysticism is an essential element of our learning.

The Beginner’s Guide to Metaphysics by Anthony Tyler
In today’s society, “magic” and “religion” have become loaded words. From a scientific perspective, they have become akin to fairy-tales, folklore, and psychological simplicity. Those who find the value in it are sometimes treated with a condescending nature, or politely asked how they could put some much merit into “blind faith.” While it’s true that at times it does misplace and mis-interpret the idea of faith, considering religion and magic (or mysticism, as they will be referred to together from hereon out for scholastic reasons) a psychological crutch is not only incredibly conceited, but also incredibly illogical and irrational.
The mind of the modern, science-exclusive person, paints as many broad strokes in ideology as the mysticism it critiques, and today the theories of the Big Bang and even Darwinism and Relativity are indeed contested due to their scientific discrepancies. This is not to say that they are entirely untrue, but that they are merely incomplete in their current representations. Some may scoff at the idea, but there is a great deal of philosophy (most notably David Hume) that strongly argues how the idea of “empiricism” (empirical deduction in science) cannot be a truly objective form of investigation. This is not meant to discredit the value of empirical thought, but rather to equate ideas of mysticism and science through the common denominator of theory – nothing is set in stone, and so all is subject to change. After all, the data may be accurate, but human error in translation of the data will be ever-pervasive.