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January 26, 2017 | ‘Critical Thinking’- Lacking in Economics and Finance!

Donald B. Swenson: Born January 24, 1943, Roseau, Minnesota. Graduated H.S. 1961, Moorhead High, Minnesota. Graduated College 1968, Moorhead State University, Minnesota. Designated member of Appraisal Institute (MAI), 1974. Employed with Western Life Insurance Company, 1968 – 71; Iowa Securities Company, 1971 – 73; American Appraisal Company, 1974 – 81. Part-time teacher/valuation consultant/bartender, 1979 – 2008 (taught workshops at Waukesha County Technical Institute, Wi. and Madison Area Technical College, Wi.). Retired 2008 (part time teacher/blogger), AZ. Self educated economist/philosopher/theologian:

Image result for the Socratic method

After teaching and consulting in the various areas of finance, valuation, and economics, I can assert that real ‘critical’ thinking is lacking for most adult thinkers. Critical thinking involves digging deep into an issue and then asking the hard questions which get glossed over by the general public. Socrates is the philosopher who started the trend of ‘critical’ thinking and he discovered that nearly everyone did not know what they claimed they knew (this was revealed by just asking questions). This is rather shocking when we think about it. I, however, have discovered the same with my many teaching experiences.

Take the time to check out this website where teachers promote and teach using the Socratic method: A review of the Socratic method is given here: My personal view is that the Socratic method of asking questions and continuing to ask more questions is one of the best ways to grow intellectually.

What is the Socratic Method?

Developed by the Greek philosopher, Socrates, the Socratic Method is a dialogue between teacher and students, instigated by the continual probing questions of the teacher, in a concerted effort to explore the underlying beliefs that shape the students views and opinions.

  • Socratic inquiry is not “teaching” per se. It does not include PowerPoint driven lectures, detailed lesson plans or rote memorization. The teacher is neither “the sage on the stage” nor “the guide on the side.” The students are not passive recipients of knowledge.
  • The Socratic Method involves a shared dialogue between teacher and students. The teacher leads by posing thought-provoking questions. Students actively engage by asking questions of their own. The discussion goes back and forth.The classroom environment is characterized by “productive discomfort,” not intimidation.
  • The Socratic professor does not have all the answers and is not merely “testing” the students. The questioning proceeds open-ended with no pre-determined goal.
  • The focus is not on the participants’ statements but on the value system that underpins their beliefs, actions, and decisions.
  • For this reason, any successful challenge to this system comes with high stakes—one might have to examine and change one’s life, but, Socrates is famous for saying, “the unexamined life is not worth living.”

Today, we live with many new changes to how we relate personally and how we relate within economics and finance. The biggest changes have been changes within our monetary system and our technology environment. Few seem to understand these many changes (as little is taught at our institutions of higher learning) and our pundits and advisers are not challenging the media or the education system to expose these changes. This makes for uninformed pundits, teachers, politicians, economists, and the general public. We need to ask new questions and probe deeper into all the various issues.

Why, for example, does hardly anyone challenge the Keynesian model of our Central banks and their math based finance system? Is this model even relevant for our new internet society? Why have few educators not informed the public and investors about our cyber money units (now created ‘out of nothing’ and mostly behind closed doors)? Should Americans be aware of how our Central banking system operates? What is the Trump economic model when it comes to our trade with other nations? How do bilateral trade policies differ from multilateral trade agreements?

What should be official legal tender when a reserve currency is not wanted for settlement in a major international trade decision? Has our cyber $ been adjudicated as being official legal tender for today’s marketplace? Is the Petro-dollar price mechanism a valid tool for enforcing trade relationships in today’s cyber marketplace? Why are nations promoting a cashless marketplace within their country? Just what is ‘cash’ in today’s marketplace?

What is this concept called ‘value’ and can it be made more objective when trading with international counterparties? Why is gold being ridiculed as a barbarous relic for international trade transactions? Why do many Central banks trade our markets to enforce their select policies and goals? What is the gold standard, gold exchange standard, bimetallic standard, and the floating fiat standard? How can a subjective cyber currency system work for international trade?

Today, I talked to a few of my adult/retired students at the clubhouse. All seemed enamored with the Dow Index which is now over 20,000. Does this mean that our economy is booming? What specifically does it mean to have a 5.5% increasing in the Dow Index is just 42 days? How did this happen? Was real wealth created? Is money in one’s stock market account suggestive of growth in our economy? Is poverty declining when new people get added to the food stamp (EBT card) list? How should poverty be measured in today’s world?

We could go on and on with more questions, but the number of ‘critical’ thinkers today are few IMO. Most adults at the clubhouse do not desire to ask critical questions to learn about our many serious issues. If the index markets are UP, then all is well according to this crowd. Asking questions to learn the deeper meanings about events are generally not desired (this creates division, say many). This, to me, is shameful. Critical thinking is just not desired by the many it seems. Maybe all this will change once our markets finally do head south for a longer period. When a problem develops then mind’s usually change!

Until then, I don’t envision any growth in the desire to develop the Socratic Method of thinking (at least around my venue). Socrates was eventually put to death for his own method of critical questioning. The politicians in power did not desire his exposure of their general ignorance. Is this the situation today? I think so! The vast majority will not desire any changes in their thinking until our problems get much worse. I find this shameful, but that is today’s reality IMO. What do you think? I am:

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January 26th, 2017

Posted In: Kingdom Economics

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