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The Role of Critical Thinking In An Ever Changing World


Staff member
Dec 14, 2023
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As I lay in bed last night and again this morning, an interesting notion swirled around my head. Interesting, but also worrisome if you start to examine the fibres of the tapestry this thought weaves. My ponderings can be summed up into one simple, but dare I say, vital question.

Are we losing the ability to think critically?

In a world where we’re told that all the information we could ever want is at our fingertips, it is easy to become overwhelmed. If we had the ability to go back in time even just 200 years ago, we would see that our ancestors would have had very different worries than we do in our world today. Their lives would have been very community based, with news from far away lands coming in spurts and with such wonder, that everyone examined it with a fine tooth comb. Fast forward to today, with access to seemingly endless political, education, medical, and financial stories from all around the globe, who has the time to stay abreast of all of the information and implications of that information?

Enter in the world of media and governing bodies, who can take this heavy burden off our shoulders. Between hockey practice, PTA meetings, work, social obligations and the like, society quickly required an entity who would be in the position to summarize what we needed to know in short data bursts that we could then assimilate.

On paper this sounds grand doesn’t it? I can get the snapshot of the important world events and narratives I need to believe in order to be a good citizen, while rushing my kids through the drive through and responding to that work email. How marvelous! However, I fear the reality to this very convenient modern-day service has far reaching implications that we are not paying attention to.

Indeed, this blog post may require you to put down your phone (unless you are using it to read this, then carry on), and pay attention for a few moments.

In world where we are spoon-fed information with very specific agendas and gains, are we losing our ability to ask questions? To dig just slightly below the surface of the story to see if the information aligns with our thoughts, beliefs, morals, and ethics? Even more so, to see if the story actually aligns with what we are being told is truth?

Now before you start to get your hackles up and wonder where I am going with this, allow me to paint you a Netflix based picture. Most of us still watch television to some degree and many of us watch Netflix. Where’s the harm in talking about a show on there yes? Especially in a world so saturated with polarizing viewpoints!

So let’s dive in, shall we…

Let’s Get Down to Earth

My husband and I enjoyed the first season of Zac Effron’s show Down to Earth. I will first admit to my bias of dear Mr. Effron picturing him in his youth, slinging show tunes. But as it turns out, the first season of the show explored some very interesting concepts. So when season two came out, we quickly decided we wanted to check it out.

Within the first few episodes we already started to notice a change in the way the information was being delivered. Biw admittedly, it is very difficult to perfectly summarize some of the more complex geo-political concepts that Zac and his team are trying to navigate in one single episode. But it became clear that they were walking us to a very singular point, not allowing for the exploration of nuisances within those points.

Now on the surface these points looks great! The shifting and changing weather patterns that are now our reality should not be ignored and right away Zac and Darin pointed out the magnificence of electric vehicles (as an example). They are doing their part by traveling all around Australia (where this season is filmed) using mostly electric power.

If we are to believe the surface information that this beautifully shot and well delivered Netflix show is telling us, then we can all agree that electric vehicles are better for the environment. Right?


But Wait… Where Does the Electricity Come From?

And this is where critical thinking comes in. If we begin to fear digging just a layer below the information we are given, we could be missing some potentially vital facts that will help us form a whole and more complete viewpoint.

Don’t get me wrong, do I believe that we need a better way to fuel our transportation vehicles and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels? Absolutely. Am I convinced that electric vehicles are the way to do it? Not entirely.

Electric cars require electricity and while again on paper, this fuel sources look cleaner, we need only ask one question to start to paint a bigger picture. Where does the electricity come from? From Australia’s own Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water branch of the government they state that as of 2021 Australia produces 71% of their electricity from fossil fuels and only 29% from what they consider to be renewable resources. Essentially that means that in order to produce the “clean” energy needed to power electric cars, they still rely very heavily on fossil fuels, the very thing we are told are bad if we put them directly into our cars.

Does this change your opinion on whether Zac driving around in an electric vehicle is actually making the difference they state it is? I’ll leave that up to you to decide. My point in illustrating this is merely that, when only given a portion of the information, it is very easy to draw potentially incorrect conclusions. And I encourage you to continue to research, because my point doesn’t even cover the disposal of the batteries and the environmental implications of those (plus the myriad of nuisances that encompass energy production and use).

Onto Regenerative Agriculture

I will give my head nods to the producers of Down to Earth for bringing some deeply beautiful and necessary concepts to the forefronts of people’s minds. Especially those who are still new to questioning where their food comes from and how it is grown. Unless you are in the business of food production or following a homesteading lifestyle, the concept of regenerative agriculture may be new to you. This is another area I encourage you to learn more about, because it may truly be the future of saving our soil and therefore food production.

And we need soil to grow absolutely everything we use as food and medicine, so learning how to save and regenerate our soil is necessary for the survival of the planet and humans as a species.

In the second episode of the series we meet one of the co-owners of Jonai Farms and I’d love for you to get to know what they do. Once you understand the model in which their farm runs, you can start seek out farmers in your area that are applying this same concept. In a world where we are torn between trying to save the world and savouring it, farms that apply regenerative agriculture seem to have found a way to experience both. Enjoying the food that they grow, in all forms, while restoring the soil and microbiome.

But Here’s Some Irony for You…

As Zac and Darin sit to have this incredibly important conversation with an expert on regenerative agriculture, I couldn’t help but notice the take away cups they used to house their coffee. I love when shows weave irony and perfect opportunities for critical thinking right in plain sight! Can Zac and his team not afford reusable mugs? I do hope that coffee was at least fair trade and organic.

Sarcasm aside, it is important to look at these surface pictures and ask some deeper questions…

Circling back to Jonai Farms, where they also raise and butcher all of their own meat. In a world where we are increasingly being asked to reduce our meat consumption and eat alternative and fake meats instead (and even bugs in some cases!), I was happy to see that they at least discussed the raising of ethical meat for those who choose to consume it.

Down to Earth was quick to point out the carbon emissions that result from eating a single hamburger later on in the episode, but this lead me to another one of those pesky questions that helps you dig below the surface.

Beef is Bad Right?

I couldn’t help but notice that they painted beef with a single brush, stating that it was a huge source of greenhouse emissions. And while I do not argue that traditionally raised cows grown on large commercial farms do produce a lot of methane, after a beautiful discussion on regenerative agriculture, I feel the production team left some important conversation points off the table.

For example, if cattle are raised using the very model they highlighted, regenerative agriculture, do they produce as much methane gas? How much of the gas they produce is as of a result of being fed foods that they cannot digest, such as corn? I don’t know about you, but if I had to eat nothing but corn all day, I would be pretty gassy too. Not to mention the role of animals raised in a regenerative agriculture model is vital to sequestering carbon which is critical.

So again, we have nuisances that should be explored. Is having a burger every now and again bad, or is it about sourcing ethical raised meat for your burger? When we look at the alternative meat sources, such as Beyond Meat burgers, we need to ask ourselves important questions regarding the levels of pesticides and water being used to raise the crops that go into those products There are no simple solutions, which is where critical thinking comes in.

If you want to dive into this topic further, check out this article here.

Are We Showcasing Elitism?​

Down to Earth gave people some really great options to explore in terms of alternative ways to source and enjoy the food you eat. From the amazing CSA at Jonia Farms (which has a 20 year wait list) and the extensive and mouth-watering menu at Brae Restaurant, I imagine their hope was to open people’s eyes to the plethora of choices we have if we just look beyond our local grocery store.

When we were introduced to Brae, I was immediately in awe of the food that we being produced on their tasting menu. Watching Darin and Zac eat made me hungry! Of course I did what any good viewer would do and I looked up the restaurant. You too can enjoy the cuisine that a restaurant like Brae for the reasonable price of $306 CAD per person.

I’m sorry what!?

If you want average every-day people to enact sustainable change that is really going to make a difference to this planet, you need to provide solutions that are accessible. The message was beautiful, but the delivery needs a bit of work (in my humble opinion of course).

In Conclusion​

I’m not tell you to buy an electric car or to not buy one. Eat a burger or don’t; not my decision to make. Instead of telling you what to believe, my goal in this post is to encourage you to dig a little deeper when it comes to the information we are being provided with. When we are being spoon-fed facts and truths, we unfortunately need to accept that we cannot control what is on the spoon. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to know what I’m eating, so to speak.

If anything the last three years has taught me, it’s that critical thinking skills and the ability to engage in discourse are vital to the survival of our world. If we are all truly in this together.. from the birds and fish, plants and trees, to the oceans, soils and air, all the way up the food chain to the mammals and humans that inhabit this amazing world, we owe it to ourselves to continue to ask questions.

Thanks for reading,

The post The Role of Critical Thinking In An Ever Changing World appeared first on Spiraea.
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