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is the death of free thinking down to society or our education system?

There has been a recent demise in the amount of free thinking done in the world. if one compares our generation in comparison to other decades, protests of 70's, creativity of 80's and innovation of 90's, on must ask the question, why do we no longer question things or fight for what we believe in? I originally believed it was society, that we believed that there was nothing more to think of, nothing new after computers to think of, that we had reached the final frontier according to society. As well as there not being a cause high profile enough for people fight for, nothing like Vietnam for people to fight against. Then i realised that possibly it is not society or what is happening that is killing our need to free think, fight and/or innovate. Yet are we not in the same situation as past generations? Eg. They invented the TV but we felt the need to invent the computer. Is our school system not possibly, by constricting us to such extents, possibly killing free thinking and making what is possibly, extinct? They change the way we perceive problems so we approach it with blinkers on, instead of allowing our free thinking and imagination to solve problems in a whole variety of the ways? Which has the greater influence f the two ...?


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    Jan 8 2013: 3rd one is most important for Free Thinking that is Individual's Curiosity and desire to Think out of the Box

    No society / education system ever allowed Free Thinking....
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      Jan 8 2013: Isn't that the truth. (Well, it can't be stamped out, but it can be so hidden that only a rare few ever find it)
    • Jan 9 2013: To earn a PHD, usually you have to propose something new.
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        Jan 9 2013: I don't think, Brock, that the value placed on imagination within education is limited to the elite level at all. I think students who combine rigor of thought, a drive to understand deeply, and a disposition to think independently and imaginatively are those who excel in educational settings from high school on.

        But...those who are imaginative but do not engage in rigorous thought or and who are confident of their thoroughness of understanding even when they don't understand the matter at all, often will do poorly despite their imaginations.
        • Jan 9 2013: I agree completely. A solid understanding of the fundamentals(even to a lesser degree than a PHD) actually empowers the creative and makes them more effective in their creative endeavors.

          A fun example might be: How do we send a man to the moon without first learning physics?
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          Jan 13 2013: It's not matter of believe , rather talking about facts and proven pattern like "normal distribution".... which got no perspective !!!

          Yes 360 degree perspective could be the best, definitely some people have it. However which perspective I am missing you think? How sure you are about that ?

          I am also aware of "selective blindness" to facts. Thats natural also because despite of that humanity progressed and will do same in future
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          Jan 14 2013: Fritzie, Diffusion Innovation in society almost all cases follow normal distribution curve.....that in turn gives the picture of readiness of society in accepting innovation....

          Does it sound relevant to my argument ?
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        Jan 9 2013: Understand your point about PhD but that again a process of certification.......though I don't have the statistics just as helicopter view...how many breakthrough ideas came so far from PhD thesis any idea about it?

        Socertes, Plato, Darwin, Galileo, Da Vinci, Michael Angelo, Newton, Wright Brothers, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, (list will go long and long) none had PhD .....but how they changed the thought process of mankind?
        • Jan 9 2013: "how many breakthrough ideas came so far from PhD thesis any idea about it?"

          Well, that is an interesting question, and I don't know the answer. However, if it were only once in the history of earth, it would still disprove the statement: "No society / education system ever allowed Free Thinking"

          Consider John Nash of "A beautiful mind" fame... His doctorate was earned with his introduction of Game Theory that flew in the face of conventional wisdom regarding economics.
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          Jan 11 2013: You know what you wish to believe, I think. It can be useful to try to see the other side as well.

          There is a recent book edited by John Brockman in which about 150 of the top thinkers, mostly but not all science and analytical people, answer the question, "What have you changed your mind about?"

          It is a shame that in modern times, at least, the willingness to stick to your position is so respected and the willingness seriously to consider other perspectives and change your mind from such open-mindedness less so.

          Education/school is one place that encourages considering other perspectives. But often once people leave school, they just try to fit all the facts they come across into a prefered world view. Confirmation bias, it is called.
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          Jan 13 2013: Salim, I am answering as close as I can to your question. I very much know what a normal distribution is but do not understand whether or how it relates to any argument you are making.
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        Jan 10 2013: And that result did earn him his Nobel.

        In reference to our earlier exchange, the reason I raised the point about education, imagination, and disposition to deep understanding and rigor is that too many people, I believe, talk themselves into the idea that their failures to excel in school stemmed from the environment's intolerance of imagination or critical attitudes when,in fact, it was their own unwillingness to confront their misconceptions, to think critically, or to be wrong that truly stood in the way.
        • Jan 10 2013: I actually don't think ANY student feels like their creativity is being stymied. I was in the Air Force for a really long time, and now I am going back to school on the GI Bill for a degree in computer science. I've lived in both the real world and academia, and both are fresh in my mind.

          I am in school now and I can unequivocally say that academia encourages free thought more than just about any other place on the planet. More than that, I think some of the people posting here KNOW that that is true, and that is what they truly detest.

          I just don't trust the motives of people that want to discourage education, or to try and perpetuate myths and fear of educated people.

          It is pretty easy to raise the BS flag, because their argument is blatantly absurd on the surface. I love doing this though, because it allows me to challenge their motives and to mock them. In doing so, I let them take one step forward, but then I knock them two steps back by destroying their argument and then their motive!!! lol

          Educated people tend to be more politically liberal and also tend to be less religious. Not all, of course, but the data is pretty clear.
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          Jan 11 2013: The basic question , is whether Dr. Nash or Einstein was made by society or certification system we have in place....
          Not aware of Dr. Nash case , will try to know but about Einstein referring to his boigraphy it's clear how much he was built by society or certification system to be once EINSTEIN. Moreover you agreed that he was not good in other subjects....so did the certification system gave him good grade (which is the method of ackonwledgement in education system) , if not how he was then encouraged by society or education system as kid ?

          "Adoption of Innovation" follows normal distribution curve.......however the innovation in commercialization can drive that adoption a bit quicker otherwise it will be slower or even die once.......that means innovation need to be supported by another innovation.....it's not that our society always jumping to accept an iinovation right as it comes....
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        Jan 10 2013: I agree that perpetuating myths and fear of formally educated people is unconstructive at best and often has a self-serving motive. It provides a basis for throwing out evidence, knowledge, and understanding in favor of prejudices.

        I applaud those who take both their formal educations and independent education seriously. Formal education keeps you honest, because someone will likely let you know if you are actually clueless about a subject, whereas in independent study one can simply avoid any such check and can spend years becoming further and further deluded.

        I have had the pleasure of learning from and working with highly conservative educated people as well as liberal people. I have found educated people tend to be more open-minded, precisely because academic life is about considering different arguments and explanations, evaluating evidence, and so forth.
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        Jan 10 2013: Well , that can be subject for debate.... last statement of my first post here as reffered. As I have my own resolution not to open any subject here for conversation other than participating conversations that attracts my interest or curiosity, but will be you open that debate here....

        I have little idea how much favor the new idea of Dr. Nash got at the begining from society or education system....Generally I was referring about the pain and anguish new thoughts get from the society and education system over the ages.....Moreover with current GREED based model many new thoughts / ideas get killed if the innovator can show the profitability of the same....

        For new ideas and thoughts Galileo was jainled, what happened to Gandhi, Martin Luther King even Nelson Mandela for their new thoughts ? How much encouragement Einstein from the certification institutes he was going through to get so called education ? When first time TV or Computer was invented how much struggle those invention had to go through before being accepted....? The list can go long and longer to support my OPINION of that no society / education system ever supported Free Thinking.....

        Have a good day @ Brock.
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          Jan 10 2013: Since you ask, both Nash and Einstein were acknowledged as geniuses even before the works that made them particularly famous. Einstein was a theorist and when his theory was empirically confirmed only about five years after he first proposed it, he became the most famous scientist in the world.

          It is myth that Einstein did poorly in math and science in school. He was superlative in those subjects, though not good in some other subjects.

          So neither Nash nor Einstein supports your case.

          Those whose ideas challenge political or religious powers, in contrast, might be expected not to have their ideas embraced quickly by those entities, but this has nothing to do with any educational system.

          I don't know whether TV and computer took off fast or slowly, though that would be easy to research. We can see how quickly new technologies take off today.
        • Jan 10 2013: @Fritzie

          I think the growth of TV and computers within the population was governed primarily by basic economic principles... i.e. the law of demand. As the cost of production decreased and subsequently the price as well, demand increased. Innovation followed Moore's law - a doubling of processing capability every two years. The quick adoption of new technologies benefit from the already low costs of production previously innovated by the computer and electronics industry.

          Just my thoughts on that one subject...
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        Jan 10 2013: Hi, Brock. I looked up the case of TV, but did not post my finding, as a figured anyone who really wanted to know could look it up as well.

        TV became economical for mass production right before WW2 and so did not go into real production until after the war because of the diversion of resources, facilities, and interests for wartime needs and uses.

        In terms of the broader question, paradigms don't shift instantly, but this is unrelated to their strangulation by school systems. It is because supporting evidence needs to be gathered and evaluated.
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      Jan 14 2013: Oh, I see Salim. All you are saying is that when an idea is new, people don't tend just to throw away all their prior ideas immediately but rather to to check it out first. After all, new ideas are sometimes wrong! In the case of innovation, there are first adopters and then others follow. I think there is a Derek Sivers TED talk on this. Some ideas catch on really fast, like Einstein's. In scientific inquiry, there often needs to be enough evidence before scientists consider a conclusion statistically reliable. This scenario is unrelated to obstruction by the educational system but does describe how ideas are not immediately overthrown and replaced by new ones until some empirical support gathers.In a case mentioned earlier like ideas that would appear to threaten a predominant religious faith or ideology the dynamic is different than the diffusion of innovation generally. These issues are far afield of "the death of free-thinking!"

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