Trojan Horses in your Brain
The following rules were originally written by Charles J. Sykes, the author of “Dumbing Down Our Kids” and “50 Rules Kids Won’t Learn in School,” and it was first published by San Diego Union Tribune in 1996. However, in the warped world of Internet someone attributed those rules to Bill Gates and even to other famous people. Here is the story:
Bill Gates recently gave a speech at a high school about 11 things they did not and will not learn in school. He talks about how feel-good, politically correct teachings created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept sets them up for failure in the real world.
Rule 1: Life is not fair – get used to it!
Rule 2: The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.
Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice president with a car phone until you earn both.
Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.
Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.
Rule 6: If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault; so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them.
Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent’s generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.
Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.
Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you “FIND YOURSELF”. Do that on your own time.
Rule 10: Television and video games are NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.
Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.
I stumbled on this story with 11 Rules and I decided to use it as an educational material for my philosophy students in college. The rules, I believe contain at least one Trojan horse.
Embedded among other more or less “common sense” ones, the first rule promotes political and social apathy and inaction against injustices. It commits the fallacy of conflating an acceptable description with an unacceptable prescription. The life we live, the laws and culture of the country where we live, may not be fair to us, but it is the duty of every moral person to try their best to make it fairer.
If past generations followed the first “common sense” rule, we would still have racial segregation, women with no voice, and the horrible work conditions in the turning of the 20th century. We would still have slavery, the Pope would still condemn Galileos to death, the King and Queen of England would still be taxing Americans, DDT would be the ubiquitous flavor of our food, cars would still be dangerous in any speed, and the DOS would be the operating system of all computers, and more.
Filling the brains with facts and stories, facts and stories, facts and stories…
Unfortunately, critical thinking is missing from our educational system and I think that is the biggest missing ingredient for the pie called democracy. Without critical thinking citizens, democracy is only a window dressing, is only a tool to “manufacture consent” so that hegemony, the elite, and corporations can do whatever they wish without fear of riots and revolutions.
For years we teach our students numerous important or trivial facts related to history, literature, science, etc., together with numerous important or trivial falsehood and fiction. Then we expect them to memorize those facts and fiction, pass our standardized tests and become productive members of our system. Yet, we do not teach them how to use their logic properly, how to avoid common logical fallacies, and how to question the authority, how to examine the truthfulness and soundness of the information and dogmas we keep feeding them.
Consequently, a great majority of students graduating from our colleges are not much different than robots. I know it, since as a professor of Philosophy I have been trying to teach how to think to thousands of young robots. Of course, I always have some brilliant students who are vigilant critical thinkers guarding their precious castle, the brains against logical fallacies, distortion and manipulation, but they are in minority.
For many of the students, I am too late, since their logic board has already been screwed up, has already been messed up by dogmas of the dominant system. I occasionally shock and awe them, no not with bombs like the benevolent USA-Inc, but with unconventional ideas, with heretic political views. I occasionally play the devil’s advocate and try my best to provoke them. When they are finally woken up and are provoked, they are usually clueless how to respond to my intellectual challenge. They appear to be incompetent to correct their logic board, to purge the Trojan horses and viruses. I feel that not only the core of their system software, but their hardware too have been compromised and tempered with. As if big corporations, governments and churches have implanted various chips in their brains, they are unable to think for themselves beyond what is expected from them by the masters.
Surfing in a polluted ocean with sharks
Now the internet added more burden beyond critical thinking; we must also do the critical research or authentication of what we read and see. It is disheartening that the great majority of people are neither critical researchers nor critical thinkers. With so much false information floating around and so many brains infected with logical fallacies are surfing the net, we will end up with more charlatans and crooks as politicians and business leaders.
So, we should be doubly careful about what we read and see on Internet. We have to examine and re-examine the authenticity of the FACTS and OPINIONS.
Here, the authenticity of the source (being authored by Bill Gates) is not epistemologically as crucial as the ones attributed to God or holy people, since the religious rules, symbols and ideas that turn the faithful to zombies or robots make them commit and justify horrendous acts such as Crusades, Witch hunts, or the recent invasion of Iraq and the killing of more than a million innocent people there.
However, capitalistic symbols and ideas too have some emotional and infantilizing effect on people who are subjected to constant ideological propaganda including the subliminal and subtle ones. The name Bill Gates is a holy fantastic name in the context of capitalistic ideology and thus, it demands respect. He is unique since compared to the majority of filthy rich who inherit their wealth, he has made his wealth with magical combination of work, intelligence, connection, dubious business deals, and sheer luck. Bill Gates is also a poster boy of philanthropy since unlike most filthy rich he is listening to his conscious and together with his wife he has been trying to help people in poverty through his foundation.
“Hey, if you wish to be successful and reach your American dream and beyond, you better listen to the patron saint of capitalism.” Bill Gates is a brand name for the few big winners in the capitalistic lottery system, which is master in hiding the mass losers. Not only the propaganda machine hides the mass losers whose blood and marrow is sucked by the winners, it blames them, denigrates them and even criminalize them. They are lazy and many are criminals. No wonder the USA-Inc, the bastion and beacon of freedom is number one in the world in the highest prison population.
So, from the beginning, the speech falsely attributed to Bill Gates attracts the attention of zombies who are dreaming to become a winner. When it is read with initial mental state of admiration or subordination, the rules appeals to us as common-sense. With the witty last rule, the capitalist zombies will react as one named Cashton posted on the net:
“Regardless of who wrote it, when it was written, or how it was written, one thing remains the same…IT’S ALL VERY TRUE!!”
If your initial reaction to the 11 Rules was something like the one expressed above, then you better stop reading for a while and start thinking on thinking. Yes, thinking how to think better, how to use the 19 rules of inference, the “natural rules of deduction” embedded in us by our creator.