Example of Critical Thinking


Perhaps you've seen the following document purportedly submitted by someone named Garret Geer.  It has made the rounds on the internet a while back.  We propose to look at it using critical thinking.


First level of analysis: This is something Person A (Garret Geer) wrote about the purported plan/statements of Person B (Saul Alinsky). So the first thing we address is the fact is something Person A said Person B said.  This is important, because we need to know who both of these people are:

Garret Geer: We couldn't find anything about a Garret Geer who wrote this.  There are several Garret Geers identified in a Google search, but other than the links that are to this article, none tell us anything useful about the possible Garret Geer who wrote this.

Saul Alinsky: On the other hand, there's a lot about Saul Alinsky.  He was a Chicago-born archaeology major.  During the Great Depression, he became concerned about workers in the United States, so dropped out of graduate school.  He first got involved with the labor movement but then moved into community organizing.  It was in the latter field that he made his mark, working from the late 1930s through the early 1970s as a community organizer (first in poor areas of Chicago, and later in various cities across the U.S.)  He wrote and published Reveille for Radicals and Rules for Radicals to provide ideas and advice for community organizers who sought to produce social change, particularly for the so-called "working class."  He was not a communist in the strictest sense, but he did recognize that without more power for the workers, capitalism could and probably would continuously redistribute wealth into the hands of the wealthiest.

Second level of analysis: This level involves looking at what is actually said in this document.  The "author," Garret Geer lists "rules" purportedly from Saul Alinsky. 

The first problem with this is that Geer does not cite sources.  Why is this important?  Because if we had sources that we could look up, we could verify that Saul Alinsky actually stated these so-called "rules."

Whether, or not sources are cited is always very important.  The most trustworthy information we find on the internet is that which has sources that are cited and that we can follow-up on. 

It turns out that a review of Saul Alinsky's writings and reports of things he said reveals that none of these statements can be attributed to him.  There is no evidence that he ever wrote or said these "rules."

Third level of analysis: This level involves simply looking at the statements themselves and deciding what, if any, merit and/or validity they have, as well as where they might actually have come from.  Geer claims they are Lenin derived, communist strategies implemented by Stalin.  Unfortunately, Stalinism is not and was not communism.  So that part is not valid.  BUT there is some possibility that these "rules" might well be something used by autocrats and dictators.

In the end, no matter how valid the assertions are in this set of rules, whether any of us agrees, or disagrees with them, in themselves, is a matter of personal judgment.  We think they might well be a strategy used by a propagandist supporting an autocratic government.


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