Dr Claudette Carr: Where have all the (Black)/African intellectuals gone?

We came across a great post written by Dr Claudette Carr on the lack thereof of African intellectuals. As Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the young and brilliant Nigerian writer emphasized, Africans must tell their own stories or suffer the perils of the “Single Story.” But Dr Carr takes the conversation one step further by asking who are those telling African’s stories on the intelectual side. Dr Carr is the founding Director of the Jethro Institute for Good Governance (JIGG), wth over seventeen years experience lecturing in International and Community Development, Youth & Community Work, Social Work, and Social Policy, at Brunel, Birbeck, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences (Switzerland) and the University of Westminster. Here is here brilliant article on the subject, initially published on

Celebrity Factor

So, I have also been thinking about what impact celebrity factor might have on the dearth of African intellectuals?

The white celebrity savior industrial complex is not about justice. It is about bolstering the egos of celebrities, often used as vessels for the industrial white aid complex engaged in service of elite capture of African self-determination. Central to this process of elite capture is the infantilisation of Africans on all levels: its government, its leaders (absolutely corrupt and beyond redemption); its children ( orphans bereft of the capacity for ‘care of the self’); its women ( unfit to mother the children, they so wantonly bring into this living hell); and its youth (a lost generation, devoid of vision, and bedeviled by the post-traumatic disorder – redolent in fragile/post-conflict fragile zones). This is the movie set the ‘white’ savior descends upon to re-enact their small acts of ‘compassion’.

The celebrity [do-gooder], embraces their mission on the continent with such self-righteous philanthropic zeal – rather like an obscurantist religious sect known as the bleeding Pharisees. In this guise, celebrity piety covers its eyes in the presence of African success stories, so as not to even look at those who succeed against all odds (much less acknowledge their existence) and ends up banging into walls. Their resulting blood and bruises become “red badges of courage” which they proudly display as proof of their piety. Is it any wonder why we have the mysterious cultic phenomenon of the ubiquitous kabbalistic celebrity red wrist bracelet, championed by Kabbala’s high priestess Madonna? Hmm …

Against this background, enter the Manchild project - KONY 2012. Here you have a bunch of high-tech multi-media, celebrity- philanthropist wannabes. They strike gold with their viral video – GET KONY, a resplendent, but equally pesky little African romp.

I ask myself: “Why do these young upstarts behave like they have just dropped a whole bunch of ecstasy tabs, and insist on treating the African Continent, as if it were one massive bacchanalian revel?”

Surely, it is time for a paradigm shift – enter the black celebrity vessel. Woe! and if I had a hammer!

If you raise a generation of youth on a narcissistic diet of dumb idols, such as Jay-Z, Beyonce,Lady Gaga, P Diddy, Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Kanye West and such like: reality tv junk - Pop Idols, American Idols, X-Factor, Sunday Best, Big Brother, and I’m a Celebrity Get me out of Here ; send them to church on Sunday to engage in the same lust for fame and attention, peddled by present day ‘Pulpit Pimps‘, is it any wonder, we reproduce a vacuous army of KONY 2012 clones?

If these celebrities (as has been widely reported), callously continued to party like it was 2099 earlier this year at the pre-Grammy function, whilst Whitney Houston’s dead body lay in a room above them, do we really think P Diddy, Rihanna et al give a hoot about the plight of “30,000″ dead Ugandan children?” As the proverbial saying goes, “There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes and yet is not washed from their filthiness.” Let’s face it, Kony 2012 should have been titled, “When Will I [Jason Russell] be Famous” – you have until December 31, 2012, to bring me said blood sacrifice! Madness begets more madness.
When will I be Famous…

If I were to come up with a modern day nemesis for KONY 2012, it would have to be: our unfettered lust for consumerism, at its zenith, during the Global North’s insatiable property boom, which led us into the global economic crisis we currently find ourselves in. Except, this time, it’s African souls that are being merchandised, and the boom continues – speculating over how we might “end poverty in Africa”…

Thomas Sowell in his book Housing Boom and Bust writes:

“Few things blind human beings to the actual consequences of what they are doing like a heady feeling of self-righteousness during a crusade to smite the wicked and rescue the downtrodden.“

But I digress.

Recently I came up with the novel idea of Development Factor and rather like the KONY 2012 narrative is simple. Those International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs), wishing to tout their projects and proposals to “help the poor” in Africa, in an extremely competitive market, would have to present their ideas to a panel made up of ‘authentic’ African Development Factor Judges. One or two celebrities might be thrown into the mix for good measure. Imagine the educational benefits of visualising the various stages of the the creative process, in setting up an NGO project and making this transparent to a now almost development savvy global audience? After all the bottom line is, every one wants recognition, everyone is looking for their fifteen minutes of fame, why not turn it into something more constructive, that democratises development, and truly engages the public and local/indigenous communities in more meaningful ways?

KONY 2012 has blown open a much-needed debate, which has been dominated by economists and politicians and development professionals for half a century Quite rightly, Invisible Children did not want to alienate it’s targeted audience with the technical vernacular of development experts, and the semantics of economic growth. However, paradoxically, the simplicity of the KONY 2012 narrative, revealed a void in knowledge about human behaviour – that is rooted in beliefs about what constitutes progress and development.

A New Breed of African Intellectuals

“The paradox of education is precisely this – that as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated. ”
― James Baldwin

When all is said and done, one truth remains eternal here: we need a new breed of ‘Africanist’ scholars, who will pursue the task of their scholarly quest, with a pragmatic zeal that is second to none – as organic intellectuals, not ivory tower dim wits. Lest we forget a PhD doesn’t make you smart, or intellectual – there is no end of educated fools!

If you are vain and think the title will go nicely with your Dolce & Gabana tote, and your “in” circle of FB friends – go audition for X-Factor or F-Idols, and may you be forever confined to a wilderness, where you never receive manna from heaven – a shadow of an original thought of creativity – that might give you a clue how to get out. If your goal however, is to demystify – open eyes and ears to the mess this world is in, then may your path be filled with wonder, joy and the discernment, that knowledge puffs up, but LOVE builds up.

It never ceases to amaze me, how the powers that be continue to be the number one cheer leaders, in support of African buffoonery and intellectual inertia. One only need scratch the surface to discover the donors and sponsors, adept in this “Simon Cowell” type selection [read, schmoozing] or ‘we’re on the road to nowhere’ leaders. Of course, some Africans have internalised this longitudinal psychosis, enough to keep this diabolical pantomime of mediocrity on the road for themselves. And like all good pantomimes, let’s not mention colonialism /neo-colonialism, as the popular refrain goes [repeat after me]:

“Where is it?”
“It’s over, there”
“Behind you”….

I end as I begun: Where have all the African intellectuals gone?

Enjoy!!!Thank you for reading,
Kyle Phoenix
Thanks and enjoy! You can Like Us on Facebook or Follow Us on Twitter! Don't forget to watch The Kyle Phoenix Show on Channel 56 (Time Warner), 83 (RCN), 34 (Verizon) and the Thursday/Friday 12am/midnight simulcast

Common Emotional Difficulties of Gifted Children
by Sabah Karimi

Gifted children experience a number of challenges and obstacles for healthy development, and it can be difficult to determine if they are using a healthy coping style to manage stress, anger, and other emotional states. Gifted children are often classified as 'highly sensitive persons' (HSP) and have different needs than their non-gifted peers. If you're a parent or guardian of a gifted child, here are the most common emotional difficulties they may experience, along with some tips on handling them appropriately:

Gifted children often demand perfectionism in daily life, and this can become difficult to manage in a household that doesn't necessarily adhere to such a strict system. Gifted children can become obsessed with details, and exhibit obsessive-compulsive traits at an early age.
Solution: Help them with learning perspective, and encourage them to make a mistake without feeling 'bad' about it. Over time, they can learn how to prioritize where perfectionism is required, and where it can take a backseat.

Excessive concern about doing the right thing.
Most gifted children have an overdeveloped sense of what is considered to be right and wrong; this is a wonderful trait for decision-making, but can also leave them paralyzed for making the 'right' decision in some circumstances.
Solution: Encourage your gifted child to consider at least three alternative ways or approaches to managing a problem to avoid the self-limiting perspective and help them reduce anxiety.

Questioning everything.
Gifted children are naturally curious, and tend to ask a lot of questions about almost everything that crosses their path. This insatiable curiosity is very valuable for their natural creativity, but can be a hindrance to a simple conversation.
Solution: Offer as many details as possible when you're trying to explain something, and just expect them to ask a lot of questions. Show them how their curiosity can help solve problems and channel it into a creative activity such as writing or painting.

Lack of social flexibility because of intense focus.
Gifted children are adept at concentrating and focusing on a task for what seems like an excessive amount of time. This is a natural skill that is often overly developed in gifted children; think of it as the complete opposite of ADD, if only for a few hours. However, this intensive focus can leave them with only a few activities at the expense of other priorities.
Solution: Encourage them to branch out and keep up with a variety of social activities. Gifted children can be especially knowledgeable about one particular subject, but also have the ability to explore a variety of subjects and activities with a little practice.

Gifted children are usually far ahead in their educational and learning abilities than their peers, and will reach emotional maturity faster than most. This can cause a lot of tension at home and in social circles; many are frequently involved in arguments with teachers.
Solution: Take the time to 'place' your child at the right educational level, and pursue extracurricular activities outside of standard school subjects if they're not allowed to skip a grade. Argumentativeness is usually a result of frustration, and gifted children need enough educational stimulation to match their intelligence.

Gifted children have very different emotional needs and need effective coping strategies as they get older. Understanding their unique qualities is the first step in helping them through the process, and can help to encourage their growth in a positive way.


Thank you for reading,
Kyle Phoenix
Kyle Phoenix on YouTube, Twitter and Quora

Thanks and enjoy! You can Like Us on Facebook or Follow Us on Twitter! Don't forget to watch The Kyle Phoenix Show on Channel 56 (Time Warner), 83 (RCN), 34 (Verizon) and the Thursday 11:30pm simulcast

GEDs, the New Street Epidemic, Part 1 

I've worked for several GED programs over the years as a volunteer and as an employee; my role being everything from teacher to program director and I've watched an educational game being played over and over.  On one hand the intention is to help teenagers/adults complete their high school education who may've been interrupted or come from a foreign land and need equivalency school work to meet our school standards.  On the other hand a program has to be paid for, teachers and materials----operating expenses.  Unfortunately such expenses tend to undermine the commitment to the first educational intention.

What unfortunately allows a level of disconnect from a funding point of view is that the student body, about fifty percent, are disconnected from education.  The art and interest in learning is something that isn't easy to do when you've separated yourself from school.  People from the outside, believe school is rote, books, lessons but in fact it is a direct skill set that is reinforced over a decade.  We then use that skill set, those tools to focus our attention to manage and absorb information on deeper and deeper levels.  If however you've stopped at some point and your parents aren't educated beyond a certain level, it's near impossible to progress.

The demands of work, parole officers, children, Welfare, co-dependent family and relationships makes the sudden demands of 10 to 20 hours of school a week overwhelming.  Top all of this off with intellectual capabilities of the students which fall into three categories: so little formal educational that they're functioning as low as at a 3rd grade level---I've had students in their 20s to 70s who fall into this criteria; then there are adults who were interrupted for a variety of reasons and with some application and dedication can generally get through---learning that application and dedication takes time; then there's a huge number of those who are gifted but the two previous interrupting dimensions has occurred and the measurement of giftedness in poverty, especially educational poverty, doesn't exist as a formalized training so most teachers can't recognize it.  In many ways the education of the Interrupted looks like a level of social work because the issues that prevent them from completing school or learning the skill set are generally not school program related.  This need for a more comprehensive learning program is what leads to programs being more obsessed with it's own funding than progressing students.

I've been at the programs that have really extended themselves to try and fill the holes in people's lives.  To provide social events, graduation ceremonies, trips, tutorial services and the like to try and recreate the high school experience.  I've watched this both work and not work.  To recreate the high school experience for people whom high school didn't work out for is often encouraging the students to regress emotionally to where they failed and start having emotional issues.  Fist fights, students using drugs in classrooms, thefts, it's not a good thing.  At the same time there are some adults who genuinely need and can benefit immensely from a congenial atmosphere.

On the other end of the spectrum are programs that make about $2500 a head per student of State/private funding by the 2nd week of a semester.  So they look at how to retain students for at least 4 weeks of a 10 week semester.  Two weeks are spent on "orientation", which is really the compulsory filling out of forms to proof to the State that people exist to insure payment.  The educational classes generally try and run 2 to 4 nights, at 2-3 hours a class.  Compare that with standard public school (I generally give my students ths full below breakdown to help them understand why we need them to read/study/do homework away from the program):
  • GED Program is at max 10 hours a week.
  • Public school is 40 hours per week.
  • GED Program is about 520 if it went 52 weeks; most go about 20 weeks a year--making it about 200 hours.
  • Public school goes 9 months or 36 weeks x 40 hours=1400+ hours a year

That means most GED program are 7 times less time in school than the schooling you may have gotten K thru 12.

Which is why GED programs fail (especially when you incorporate in the concern/greed from the staff over the funding and the students social problems---poverty being the predominant issue with GED students---education follows money or lack thereof.)  In the current design of standard educations it's TIME not the resource of money to materials to teachers that is the first factor in creating successful youth and adult students.

I've been wrestling with this work as part of my Adult Education capstone/thesis, trying new strategies out.  Perfecting old ones.   Over the past 7 years I've taught about 50 individual GED classes at all levels with all racial populations really perfecting what works and doesn't work. I recently started a program/school over now two boroughs really applying some new radical ideas and applications to the work.  We have to solve this problem because it is the racial imbalancer.  Lack of education effects employment and advancement.  Following along with children becoming what their parents are, less educated parents create future drop outs with less education.

NEXT TIME: Education: Adult Education Epidemic: What Does Work, Part 2


Thank you for reading,
Kyle Phoenix
Kyle Phoenix on YouTube, Twitter and Quora

Thanks and enjoy! You can Like Us on Facebook or Follow Us on Twitter! Don't forget to watch The Kyle Phoenix Show on Channel 56 (Time Warner), 83 (RCN), 34 (Verizon) and the Thursday 11:30pm simulcast

Mentorship: Don't Waste My Time

A few days ago  I posted an essay about fatherhood---I teach a mentoring/fatherhood program to teach men, particularly men of color, how to be fathers, heal their lack of a father wounds or to act as mentors.  It was natural then that I would write about it and I've dedicated several episodes of The Kyle Phoenix Show (simulcast Thursdays EST at 12 midnight through to this line of discussion. Then I got a wave of emails about the blog on Fatherlessness.  The overriding question though was if you aren't a biological father, how to mentor?

I've been actively, professionally mentoring for about 10 years.  The outline I teach others or when I hire mentors is: Maintain Boundaries, Set Outcomes, Stay Accountable, Teach Responsibility, Don't Let Your Time Be Wasted, Recycle Into Mentors

  1. Maintain Boundaries
    • The age group I've worked with has been from 13 to 65, about 60% male with about 55% being Black or Latino.  The best way I've found to find and help people is by working or volunteering for an agency.  The agency itself will give you great additional resources (such as a Social Worker, Psychologists, Probation Officers, Guidance Counselors, etc.)  The first boundary is to recognize that you can't be all things to them though you might feel some of that projected gratitude.  I'm a teacher---essentially I'm an Educational Mentor so 2 out of 3 conversations with me are going to center around an individual increasing their reading skills, educational attainment and that's expanded for adults into career development and job skills.  I always gently but firmly make the delineation between what is my professional knowledge and opinion.  Now one's life experience is invaluable but it shows a level of responsibility and maturity not to come across as the know it all God by always hindering one's self with honesty.  You also want to make sure that you utilize some counseling skills but that you don't cross into being a therapist.  That's not your job.
    • I've worked at the places where the older men would chickenhawk the younger men, hang around my youth center to see what young ones were coming in, sexualize them, seduce them, add them to their taxes and then break them off a hundred or so.  Thirty year olds to 17 year olds being used because there was no agency structure/healthy support.  The agency then started a project with the young males where they would officially pimp them out.  The Executive Director looked the other way until he was forced by other employees to fire the predators.  He fired the predator for 1 week.
    • The commitment to improving others can't come included with your crotch or your needs.  If you find yourself distracted, hit the road.  I savor being in positions to fire those who would do more harm than help to young people  It warms a special place in my heart for those I've directly or indirectly gotten fired, dismissed, eradicated.  They make the legitimately committed or interested frightened due to internal perceptions of how being a man or a Black man or a homosexual will have an agency judge your relationships in mentoring.  Stand in your integrity and help; don't let the predators win by psyching you out of the game before you even get in..
  2. Set Outcomes
    • You're trying to help a person so you really want to know the time-frame of how long you should be committed to them.  They will test you.  No, they will really test you.  I now intimately know why parents are applauded for keeping their children because when you don't have to stay attached to someone, you fast learn to question and navigate your frustrations with them.  
    • An outcome for my mentees has been: 
      • high school
      • GED completion, 
      • college entrance, 
      • job skills (MS Office, LEED Certification, National Work Readiness, Career Coaching, professional corporate skills), 
      • college survival, 
      • graduate school entrance, 
      • graduate school completion, 
      • life planning/coaching or some mix of the two.  
    • If you're doing it even casually, you should keep some sort of charting file to mark where you started with someone and where they're at.  This will help you measure movement and effectiveness.  You might also want to have some sort of identity takeaway for them; something that answers questions about themselves that you may not completely be able to answer---an assessment. I use Now, Discover Your Strengths (see review on here: for the Gallup Organizations Theme and Strengths evaluation to give each mentee an objective reflection back about themselves.  
    • I can tell you that based about age, race and sexuality how long you think outcomes should take and how long it really might take are vastly different.  I've learned that high school/GED/college mentees can take anywhere from 2 to 5 years for them to make movements and progress and then maintain progress.  So if you take someone on you have to be committed to that timeframe, unless they (or you) breach some of the boundaries/rules.
  3. Stay Accountable
    • You want to make it clear that you want them to advance.  That's your interests.  I explain to my younger mentees that they are essentially teaching me how to parent in the future, to learn how to articulate to my own children, in all their inherent variety, how to become whatever it is they want to.  
    • Older mentees give more of a symbiotic process/lesson as they teach you how to solve problems, restructure concepts and that in turn that helps you change your own mind and thoughts about your life and abilities.  At one position, as a teacher, the work I was doing was to do career developmental work with adults.  By just processing the material to them I evaluated and made radical changes in my career and left the position.  The work you do, will change you especially if it's good material.
  4. Teach Responsibly

    • I try to back up my discussions with mentees with some sort of text.  I believe that as a teacher I'm teaching Ideology + Liberation= Power.  Now I'm challenged with what Ideology to present you with.  This will task you as a mentor with having a book, movie, music for whatever it is you're trying to convey.  But most importantly, most responsibly, you should give this in a physical form to anyone you're mentoring/teaching.  Why?  It neutralizes the possibility of narcissistic based power/control from the mentor.  If I hand you a book and say this is what I was telling you about, I'm now giving you the chance to take it and examine it intensely.  If I withhold text or facts or act as the only cipher of facts or a new way of thinking for you, that I might even insist/believe is better, I'm acting as a narcissistic demagogue.  Therefore you have to make sure your material is on point whether it's The Autobiography of Malcolm X to The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to Nelson Mandela's Long Walk To Freedom autobiography because you're trying to grow not clone.  Mentoring can be seductive because it's aggrandizing attention to you.  But your mission is not to be the smartest person they know but to teach your mentee how to think, how to reason, how to think critically, how to appreciate their own intelligence, how to grow and develop themselves.
  5. Don't Let Your Time Be Wasted
    • I'm vicious with my time.  I'm not your social worker nor your psychologist.  My goal, whether that's professionally or personally, if I take my personal time with you, is to get you to the next level.  To help nurture you through the challenges that I have gone through or know how to navigate.  We can of course talk about your choices and how say having a child before you're 30 years old will massively impact your potentiality because now you have a new, demanding responsibility.  For a mentee who is in a pregnancy situation we'll talk about abortion, safe sex and parenting and how it affects your future/education.  
    • The understood knowledge, based on statistics, is that children become what their parents are, not what they say to do.  Which is why poverty is so hard to change---impoverished people can't teach their children of what to do or not to do because they don't know.  We often don't consider that most of the college educated people come from high school graduated college educated parents---one perpetuating the other.  If that person's parents don't have higher education, that's where mentorship is so valuable.  In fact if you or someone you know parents' didn't attend college but you did--track who told, taught, mentored you about college.
    • This folds back into my time with mentees.  They either want it or they don't want.  Hard head, soft ass.  If you won't listen to me, life will teach you why a hard head equals a soft ass.  By 2014 the American requirement for a living wage with benefits and a future ($15 an hour) will be an Associates Degree.  Because of the threat now of a permanent underclass being created, I think of mentoring like a MASH or a triage unit in an emergency room and myself more like a surgeon than a kindly doctor.  There are potentially too many who will get left behind if I diddle away or allow my time to be  diddled away with push and pull and senseless drama.  Do you want it?  If you do, then let's get to work, if you're not sure or need to figure it out or question the efficacy of developing yourself, then you need to get the hell out of the way.  I have your eager replacement right behind you eager for the time and attention and resources that I can give.  You must have this rule and more importantly, you have to understand that you can't save everyone.  There are too many who aren't capable, don't want it, don't know better, are crazy.  When I teach teachers this is most often what I'm counseling the newest through their guilt over and assuring them that it's a necessary transition and the guilt should be replaced with strategies to help others.  But you have to remember:  You can't save everyone.
  6. Recycle Into Mentors  
    1. But the ones you can save you can then see them becoming mentors.  My greatest gratification have been mentees who are employed, who've moved into new careers, who've graduated from school and who are actively giving back.  Sometimes I've even placed them into old positions that I'd outgrown or no longer had time for a a teacher because they had the time and ability to do good work.  Most importantly the parents now have a different skill set to pass down to their children and a work ethic or an educational ethic. 
I look at the impact of my work as ever expanding circles of intensive influence. This blog and podcasts are another two circles within multiple circles that approximately serves 10,000 people directly a month but multiplies back out to 1.3 million in the syndication circuit around the world. The Kyle Phoenix Show on videos and television hits about 1 million viewers a week so I do a level of mentoring to about 6 to 8 million people a month around the world (hey, Mauritius! :)). 

I outline this not to brag but to suggest to you that what you know---how to cook, how to get through school, how to write a resume, how to use Word 2007, how to raise a healthy child, how to start a business---you can upload that video to YouTube and spread it on Facebook or even start a blog about it.  Use Facebook to post useful things to people because it's acting as a passive mentor---I'm often watching hundreds of people watching their phones on the train but rarely do I see them teaching each other.  But I do see them get off at the poverty laden stops in the poverty laced clothes with the lack of developed knowledge because we, who have resources and education, aren't leaving golden information nuggets along the information highway---we're keeping it hoarded to ourselves and share only with like minds at dinner parties.

Maybe you'll take this and mentor to someone in your family, neighborhood, job or at school or volunteer (NYC Volunteer is a great site I use for finding projects to volunteer at least 10% of my time to) with a non-profit.  I also spiritually look at mentoring as filling a spirit bank account when I pray for myself or others, when I need help in the Universe or more importantly when I'm confronted with people asking for help.  
Marianne Williamson in one of her audio lectures said that people who complain are generally the people who don't actively go out and do things in and for the world.  That's always struck me because I don't  feel as helpless or put upon by the world because I'm helping, Black and Mexicans and women and gays and the disenfranchised and the abandoned.  I can't save everyone, and I'm vicious with my time but I'm reaching out to millions, maybe just a scrap of hang on or a meal of read this book to start your business or feeding a mentee in person because they have no father.

"By your pupils, you learn............"

I can anecdotally say that mentoring has developed me into a whole other career strength in doing life/professional strategy and coaching work.  Helping people develop businesses and improve non-profits because my mentees have given me valuable insight into what they might need or observe in their lives.  Your mentoring, I can assure you, will enhance you on many levels.

In closing, I challenge, what are you or what could you be doing for someone else you might never even meet?


Thank you for reading,
Kyle Phoenix
Kyle Phoenix on YouTube, Twitter and Quora

Thanks and enjoy! You can Like Us on Facebook or Follow Us on Twitter! Don't forget to watch The Kyle Phoenix Show on Channel 56 (Time Warner), 83 (RCN), 34 (Verizon) and the Thursday 11:30pm simulcast

What Is Critical Thinking?

Recently I've been teaching a class on this and the students of course needed a clean and clear system for how to define critical thinking.  We were able to figure out that being smart was natural, that all conscious beings, whether man or animal have some level of smarts.  But learning, focused learning leads to intelligence.  Which brought us to the question of then what is intelligence and that brought us to critical thinking.  The assumption that critical thinking is the capacity to ask why is not only puerile but harmful because critical thinking is so much more powerful and useful.

Critical Thinking can be broken down into a 4 step process:

  1. Identify Assumptions Informing Thoughts & Actions
  2. Check Assumptions for Accuracy & Validity
  3. View Ideas & Actions from Alternative Perspectives
  4. Take Informed Action

Identify Assumptions Informing Thoughts

Why are you thinking what or how you're thinking? Who started that? Where did that come from? We often think from being trained by society, parents, teachers, peers, fools and the guy on the corner. I do an absolutely annoying thing to people constantly---I ask them where or how they got that thought.

So someone says to me: "Everyone knows that men won't pay for dinner when you go out with them without you having to be sexual with them afterwards."

Who told you that?  No, really, who told you that?  Where did you learn that?  That reality doesn't exist for anyone besides-----your society, your parents, your teachers, your peers, your fools and the guy on your corner but is it the truth? 
Ignorance of one's own mind and where the detritus in it is the road to ignorance.

In Personal Power 2  Anthony Robbins teaches about being conscious of what we allow into our minds, questioning each nugget as carefully as we might examine the food we put into our bodies.

Check Assumptions for Accuracy & Validity

"Everyone knows that men won't pay for dinner when you go out with them without you having to be sexual with them afterwards."

First off, who is everyone?  Second, what kind of men?  Third, what about lunches and brunches, does that have quid pro quo attached too?  Fourth, what is your definition of sexual?

A statement or supposition can and sometimes has to be challenged for whether it's real or valid.  But maybe most importantly we should ask the person who says this---where they got that thought?  What experience have they personally had?  From that we might then go Oh, you've been asked to put out a lot for dinner, huh?  But that doesn't hold true for me and ten of my friends.  Maybe even 100 of my Facebook friends.  Maybe, just maybe we know a social strategy that you don't.  So we might have to check and see where you got this idea.  If all your dinner dates happen in your house or his house, then yes,, sex might be hinted at and since your bedroom is only ten feet away, all your dinner dates, that a man has bought dinner, you've ended up being sexual.

I might be able to challenge that on a date, if you have dinner at a restaurant at least 50 blocks from your house, at a reasonable time and somehow slip into the conversation that you'll be going home alone.  Suddenly your "everyone" doesn't hold water.

View Ideas & Actions from Alternative Perspective

Now you get all excited about doing this with me and extend yourself.  This is the most crucial part of Critical Thinking, you have to extend yourself mentally and emotionally.  It's okay.  You won't die.  People often feel like if they step away from their thought/opinion to anew thought, they will "die".  In fact what they're talking about dying is all of the structures that they've built around that thought.  The more abnormal or dysfunctional a thought the more difficult it is to examine and put aside to look at a new way of considering reality because it just might shift ten other things in your thought system,.

"Everyone knows that men won't pay for dinner when you go out with them without you having to be sexual with them afterwards."

A new perspective might be that there are plenty of men and women having dinner without sex afterwards and this might lead to more dinners and dates and it might also lead to a relationship.  Then our new question stem might be are you being sexual so fast to avoid or sabotage the second date?  We might then question the kinds of men who jump to your house with two bags of take out and a condom.  We might then question what boundaries would like?  We might then get into do you know what boundaries are, even with people you like?  We might then question where you got your dating skills and from whom?

What we'd be doing together is exploring alternative perspectives to arrive at new thoughts/answers.

Take Informed Action

Critical Thinking is ultimately mental masturbation is you don't do step four.  Without step four you're in a spiral or a factory (if you're doing it with a group) when there is no action.

"Everyone knows that men won't pay for dinner when you go out with them without you having to be sexual with them afterwards."

Again, with our comment we can then say, ok, I'm going to try out dinners at restaurants, I'm going to only have dates in other boroughs to avoid possible sexualization, I'm going to wear dirty underwear or keep my apartment messy or have a friend to meet after the first date---something, some interrupting new action that will example that we've examined the old thought and behavior and come up with some things to not only do but we're trying them out.  Most people think when they're talking about say politics that they're really doing something but most times they're just jabbering or posting online.  Joining your school board or community board is taking informed action to try and make change to new thoughts.  You might even end up running for office or joining some political group that will actively go out on the high seas and block/catch illegal whale hunters.

Most people avoid true Critical Thinking because it might require doing something.  Real Ideology examined and then Liberation to being and doing new things that have an effect upon your own world will require risk.  Therefore, true critical thinking is exampled in the by-product of risk.  Now you have followed through in a process that has really defined what critical thinking is and you can apply this to anything from waffles to world affairs.  The question is though: how many of your thoughts are flexible enough to be examined, reexamined and perhaps up ended to change?


Thank you for reading,
Kyle Phoenix
Kyle Phoenix on YouTube, Twitter and Quora

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