The surprising key to true freedom and the Internet as a bigot detector

I've never been in love with the way I think; I am constantly on the prowl for others who think better. Internalizing how they think was key to my intellectual metamorphosis from dunce to doctor. I graduated in the top 1% of my class in medical school and now enjoy the luxury of being paid to think. I no longer need to drive to the hospital, work odd shifts (often at night, weekends, or holidays), and endure abuse from angry alcoholics, junkies, and mentally ill people.

Now I can work wherever I want, whenever I want. I can travel, shop, take a walk in the woods, build a shed, or sit with my feet up and still generate ideas and be paid to do that. I can immerse myself in people or in solitude, take a break or even vacation whenever I want, and basically live a life of almost unfettered freedom.

Most bright people never figure out how to be free. They usually work for people they must kowtow to, which requires swallowing their pride and delaying their dreams for paychecks that can never buy them what they desire most: freedom—to do what they want, when they want.

While I welcome my constant stream of new ideas I'm cognizant of its drawback: generating so many ideas delays the introduction of old ones, but that is a small price to pay for a freedom insurance policy. I will always be free because I will run out of time long before I run out of ideas.

My sixth-grade teacher said I was “slow.” That characterization was accurate but it kindled a burning desire to prove him wrong. When I began the journey from dunce to doctor, initially not knowing where I'd end up and how I'd get there, I serendipitously stumbled upon ways to boost IQ and creativity. As the pieces of the puzzle fell into place, nothing much seemed to happen for years until a critical mass of the key elements crystallized into a new and better way of thinking, as if a light had been switched on inside my once-dim head. I finally got it.

Why don't most others? Most people are born with higher innate intelligence than me and have fewer impediments to success, so they should leave me in the dust, and I should be doing what I once did: mowing their lawns, working in their factories, and asking “How high?” when asked to jump. Just give me a paycheck, please. Insert tail between legs, show servile deference, and excel in obsequious bootlicking to become the ultimate sycophant. No thank you!

Those days are over for me, but not for most others. They trade their time and too much of their pride for lives in which they've lost the freedom to be themselves. Their success and freedom could skyrocket if they lost their affinity for how they think and embraced the thoughts and methods of others, harvesting the wheat from the chaff in an ongoing eclectic quest to acquire the best.

This concept is foreign to most people. They accept the necessity of learning facts from others (analogous to inputting more data in a database) but they reject the necessity of improving the operating system that processes that data. Education for most boils down to stuffing data into brains that figuratively need a processor upgrade, not more memory. They love the way they think and they'll be damned if anyone will change it. They want the freedom to stagnate, not grow.

Freedom is ultimately increased by freeing oneself from the conviction that one's way of thinking is best. It rarely is. By constantly learning from how others think, not just what they think, one can figuratively upgrade the CPU in their brain from a clunky 80286 to the latest hot processor. The resultant improvements in processing information enable almost anyone to do what I do, and thus obtain the freedom they crave. That is good for them individually and for us collectively, because our culture—from pigheaded CEOs to hidebound leaders and institutions—is beset with an obsession to produce clones that perpetuate the system that direly needs to be improved, not endlessly—and mindlessly—replicated.

I don't see many people eager to embrace the ideas of others and how they arrive at them. This seems especially true on the Internet where its anonymity gives people the freedom to be themselves and show their true colors. The Internet is chock-full of people with chips on their shoulders, eager to viciously attack and insult anyone who isn't a perfect carbon copy of themselves.

The Internet is thus a superb bigot detector. Bigots hate people who don't agree with them about everything:

bigot (noun): (1) a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing opinion, belief, or creed; (2) a person who is obstinately intolerant of any ideas other than his or her own, especially on politics or religion, and has animosity toward those of differing beliefs.

Ideological diversity rubs bigots the wrong way, so their small minds compel them to blast others who dare disagree—especially the very smart ones who frame their opinions so persuasively they change minds without arm twisting, ad hominem attacks, or character assassination.

As bigots smear thinkers they can't outthink, they pat themselves on the back and revel in showing the world incontrovertible proof of their small-mindedness:

“Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.”
Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, quoting someone he termed an "unknown sage" in The Saturday Evening Post article "The World of the Uneducated" (November 28, 1959)

The penalty for small-mindedness is a life sentence, being imprisoned by second-rate thoughts that trap its victims, thus depriving them of the key to true freedom. No matter how angry they get, no matter how fierce their temper tantrums, they're bound to fail, creating more anger that fuels their fixation to bully others into thinking like they do.

And the vicious cycle beat goes on.

The views expressed on this page may or may not reflect my current opinions, nor do they necessarily represent my past ones. After reading a slice of what I wrote in my various websites and books, you may conclude that I am a liberal Democrat or a conservative Republican. Wrong; there is a better alternative. Just as the primary benefit from debate classes results when students present and defend opinions contrary to their own, I use a similar strategy as a creative writing tool to expand my brainpower—and yours. Mystified? Stay tuned for an explanation. PS: The wheels in your head are already turning a bit faster, aren't they?

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald

Reference: Imagining dialogue can boost critical thinking: Excerpt: “Examining an issue as a debate or dialogue between two sides helps people apply deeper, more sophisticated reasoning …”

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