The One Thing that Terrifies Me…

There’s a lot of things that should probably terrify me in the world today – but there’s one that stands out above all others. The apparent complete abandonment of “critical thinking”. This may not come as much of a surprise if you’ve read my posts on drivers blindly following their GPS system into life-threatening situations.

Today I read a story on Cnet that had me scratching my head. From what I can tell it was written by a guy who works in some kind of computer repair job. The post (found here) is basically about the hazards of screws when it comes to your laptop more specifically screws you “can’t get undone”.

The line that made my jaw drop was:

Thanks to a single screw the owner of this laptop computer now has to buy a new machine.

Huh? Come again???

Basically he was defeated by a single screw, which had gone form being a Philips head to a perfect little circle. Now, this happens all the time but what shocked me was how easily he shrugged and gave up. His solution was “Hard Drive is stuck, by a new computer”. He then goes onto to detail a bunch of other ways a tiny little screw has defeated him in the course of his job.


Come on people, in this day of persistent & pervasive information most of life’s basic problems can be answered by just stepping back for a second and considering the problem. If that doesn’t provide a solution, ask around – A simple Google search for “Removing a Stripped Screw” turned up 73,000+ results.

At the end of the day here’s one piece of critical thinking I’ll save you from having to do. If you go to a repair shop and the guy behind the counter is named Michael Horowitz just run, run, run away.

When did Critical Thinking fall by the wayside?

A while back I did a “tongue-in-cheek” post about how the computers will eventually take us (humans) out. The underlying idea though is my serious concern of the apparant lack of critical thinking skills within the population in general.

James Woods (the geek not the actor) passed me over another “Driver blindly follows GPS” story this morning.

…when a U.K. woman sent her £96k Mercedes SL500 flying into a river, trusting the car’s optimistic GPS guidance instead of the road signs warning of impending doom.

The sad thing is this has gotten to be a weekly, if not daily occurance at this point. If anyone knows this woman, or someone who’s done something equally as ridiculous, can you please ask them on my behalf “At what point did you realize something was wrong?” or even better “Did you even hit the brakes?”

I see it every day as well where people step out into a crosswalk, without looking, simply because the “walking man” is lit.

This is very much in the same vein of the increasingly ridiculous use of common sense warnings, on signs and products – Like the fast food coffee cups that now all carry “This beverage is hot, please enjoy carefully” (or something thereabouts). It scares me that people who deliberately order coffee have to then be told “It’s hot”.

Scarier still is the fact I always assume that if it was important enough to put on a label then someone has probably tried it – seriously do people think at all before they do something? At the end of the day I feel pretty strongly that one of the biggest problems in society today is a total lack of personal responsibility – there is always someone, or usually something, else to blame for your misfortune.

In the case of the woman above many will probably blame the GPS device because it told her to turn left, but in the end there’s only one person who is holding the wheel and pushing the pedals. I guess it’s only a matter of time until car manufacturers decide that the simple disclaimer that appears when you start the car is no longer sufficient:

“Attention. If there is no oncoming traffic and the road ahead of you is not blocked, partially submerged, under construction or gone entirely you should turn left in 10 metres. Please be advised though that the temperature is around freezing and ice may be present. Under inflation of tires may also cause for slight understeer, please compensate accordingly accordingly. I also sense that the cell phone is in operation and you only have one hand on the wheel, it is reccomended that one have both hands on the wheel at all times while operating a motor vehicle. XYZ Autocorp is not responsible for any accidents that may occur as a result of this direction, please honk your horn before turning to indicate acceptance of these turns.”

Toot. toot.

Photo: Grant Mitchell