A BASIC REQUIREMENT FOR CLEAR THINKING

March 11, 2011 at 6:27 am 1 comment

Historic blunders

By RALPH DOBRIN

Excerpts from his book “How to avoid Armageddon”
Available through Amazon

Click: http://www.amazon.com type: how to avoid armageddon

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History is full of terrible blunders that were caused because certain salient facts had been overlooked. On a grand scale a number of blunders come readily to mind, such as the Munich Pact, after which British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain made his famous prediction, which was to become one of the most ironic and pathetic declarations of all time: “I believe it is peace for our time.” The Munich Pact had been signed on September 29, 1938 between the leaders of Britain, France, Germany and Italy. Adolf Hitler, the German dictator had demanded annexation of Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland region and Britain and France signed an agreement with Germany to sanction this act, hoping that it would prevent the outbreak of war.

At the time, making the agreement might have seemed wise because the horrors of World War I were still clearly remembered by the people of Europe. But the British and French leaders weren’t considering all the facts. It was clear from declarations and actions of Hitler and his fascist Italian ally Mussolini, that they were extremely treacherous, expansionist dictators and that appeasing them would probably lead to terrible catastrophe for the entire world. But the British and French, in their understandable eagerness to avoid conflict, had allowed Hitler to build a formidable army – which in itself was a contravention of previous international agreements. Less than a year after the Munich Pact, war broke out. But Germany had become unstoppable and continued its systematic conquest of most of Europe. The war could have been prevented or at least scaled down considerably in size had the leaders of Britain and France considered all the facts that were so readily apparent to any objective observer. But they had indulged in wishful thinking, which resulted in six years of the bloodiest carnage the world had ever known.

Another enormous blunder was the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. While brilliantly planned and executed, the Japanese leaders had nevertheless badly miscalculated the resoluteness of America’s reaction and military capability, which subsequently resulted in Japan’s destruction. A few hometruths about the American spirit (or the spirit of any powerful nation thus wantonly attacked) and America’s immense industrial potential, would at the outset, have quashed any Japanese plans to attack Pearl Harbor.

Going to war for the sake of conquest or revenge is always a terrible thing. Wars are so often launched by the decision of one super-egoistic man or a small group of people, driven by nasty impulses such as avarice, megalomania or chauvinistically-driven territorial conquest. Falsehood is invariably the vehicle that propels these people to positions of leadership and control. And it is falsehood that dupes the public into supporting their dangerous policies. The public is fed evermore lies and half-truths about what the nation needs, about imagined wrongs they have suffered and trumped-up threats to their national security, as well as canards about the people perceived as enemies. It is a formula used by scoundrels throughout history. And the tragedy is that too many people never learn to recognize the half-truths and lies. In doing so, they are pandering to falsehood.

On the other hand, leaders of people facing serious threats from the scoundrels need to muster the highest levels of sensible deliberation. This means pursuing the whole gamut of wise decision-making, from the collation of all the relevant facts, clearly assessing the whole situation and then sober postulating. It means pooling the thoughts of experts and advisors. And finally, it means – contrary to the mindset of the adversaries who instigated the conflict – uncompromising honesty. It means truthfulness and the ability to smell out humbug. And of course it means the courage to face up to reality and act accordingly. These guidelines also apply to the ordinary individual in the case of everyday issues as well.

* * *

On a personal basis we all make mistakes, resulting from failure to face facts honestly, sometimes with consequences for the rest of our lives. Laziness is a common cause. We might know what’s in store for us, but we just don’t have the inclination to snap out of our inaction and get ourselves going and do what needs doing. Another cause is the influence of friends. We enjoy hanging out with the crowd. So instead of applying ourselves to our studies, careers or domestic lives, we spend too much of our time doing other stuff that might satisfy our mood of the moment, but that doesn’t help build a solid future for ourselves or cope with our present problems. Wishful thinking is another one-way avenue to blunder, failure and future frustration. These are all conditions of our own doing.

But often mistakes are made in our lives that have nothing to do with any of the above-mentioned causes. Sometimes things don’t work out the way we intended because of unpredictable events or developments in our lives. For instance, many occupations have been rendered obsolete because of technological advances. A classic example is the printing industry, which has changed radically since the advent of computerized typesetting and other technological advances. In the nineteen seventies, people who were skilled compositors and typesetters, using the principles basically started by Johannes Gutenberg five hundred years earlier, suddenly found themselves without an employable skill because of developments that had revolutionized the printing industry within a brief period of a few years. Many were caught by surprise by what was happening. At a certain point these people had to make a serious decision. Either relate honestly and objectively to change or face a very uncertain, possibly grim future.

For the younger workers it was easier to decide what to do. Many were able to learn the new printing methods that relied on computerization, or they found other occupations. But it was usually much harder for the older workers with families, mortgages to pay and other commitments. Many chose to ignore the situation, believing that the powerful trade unions would look after them. And indeed, some changes – especially for compositors and typesetters in the newspaper industry – were slowed down to help facilitate a smoother transition for many workers. However, hundreds of thousands of printing workers throughout the world faced imminent redundancy and their lives were severely disrupted.

To a large extent, those who faced the situation honestly were often able to ride out the upheaval in their lives. Clearly, the situation was scary for everyone. It was easier in the short term to simply shrug off the problem and say something like, “The Union will look after me,” or “Everything will work out okay in the end,” soothing the bury-the-head-in-the-sand outlook with a swig of booze. This was an example of wishful thinking. And wishful thinking, as we have said earlier, can be a form of untruthfulness.

Facing the future objectively and honestly meant considering the situation as a whole. People needed to ask themselves sober, even scary questions, while at the same time not getting into a panic. What work options would there be for them? What training programs were available? Would there be any severance pay and if so could one contemplate opening a business with the money? What was their financial situation? Did they need to continue making regular payments for mortgages or other commitments? Then, with answers to these questions they could make more sensible, practical decisions.
Of course luck is always a factor. One can consider an issue carefully and objectively, and come to what should be a good, practical conclusion, and then suddenly a new, unpredictable factor appears and the whole plan can come crashing down. But even then, by avoiding all the pitfalls of laziness, temporary gratification and wishful thinking, and being honest with ourselves, our plans can usually have a better chance of working out.

To continue: https://truthandsurvival.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/a-basic-requirement-for-clear-thinking-%e2%80%93-2/)

To order “How to avoid Armageddon” click: http://www.amazon.com type: how to avoid Armageddon

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Entry filed under: Blogroll, dangeous lies and halftruths, How to avoid Armageddon, Things not mentioned in the press. Tags: , , , , , , .

BIASED WORDING – 4 A BASIC REQUIREMENT FOR CLEAR THINKING – 2

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