I (Burr) am unilaterally unveiling a new feature for this blog: “Critical Thinking”. So much of the information that overwhelms the Internet (through blogs, twitter, and other outlets) is instantaneous reactions to breaking news. It doesn’t seem to matter if the facts of the story are accurate or if the reactions to the story are well-reasoned or thoughtful in any way. Immediacy seems to be prized above all else. And even if reactions change or the facts of the story are found to be inaccurate, these developments are often considered “old news” and overshadowed by the next immediately new story.
With that in mind, with “Critical Thinking” I will take a prominent news story that has had a chance to breathe and chart my initial reaction to the story, what I discovered after delving just a little bit further into it, and my personal appraisal of the situation after actually giving it some thought.
My blind hope in all of this is to inject a modicum of thoughtfulness into this wonderful, free, and open digital society. So feel free to steal, copy, or adapt this model as you see fit.
Now on to the inaugural “Critical Thinking” piece:
Topic: Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize (link)
Gut reaction: A few good speeches is enough to win this thing? “He hasn’t done anything”.
Upon further reflection: The Nobel prize committee has a history of using the prize a carrot to encourage future behavior rather than award past action (link). It is based on the opinion of 5 Norwegians and their decision making process is very confidential (link). Also, it isn’t as if President Obama personally lobbied for the prize (like the 2012 Chicago Olympic bid). And finally, I don’t think the importance of Obama’s reversal of official US policy on torture or “enhanced interrogation techniques” (link) should be understated.
Appraisal: The Nobel Peace Prize Committee chose to give President Obama the award on its own. He didn’t have to do anything extra or different to get it and he doesn’t have to do anything extra or different now that he has won. Ultimately, it’s interesting but unimportant.