Letter to The Editor: Rationalizing the way you think

    The success of Western Civilization over the past several centuries is primarily because of the emphasis on rational thought. This type of thinking starts with clearly stated arbitrary principles, continues with logical conclusions and generalizations and examines empirical evidence to modify the initial principles. Universities are charged to educate students on proper rational thinking. Counterexamples to rational thinking are commercial advertisements, which consist of incomplete and partial evidence accompanied by strong emotions. The opinion article in last week’s edition of The Rider News is filled with statements showing the need for more rational education.
The article starts saying that Karl Rove is a “master orator” and then writes about Rove’s “unfounded loathing for…legislation by Obama.” If Rove let listeners think his loathing is unfounded, then he is a poor speaker. A good orator, or professor, gives clear rational statements supported by evidence along with clarification of other people’s thinking.
The article says that since Europe has social health care, we should also. This is not a rational statement for two reasons. One is the failure of the writer to give logical reasons to justify the statement. The second is the failure to discuss empirical evidence, showing that European health care is superior to our health care.
The article states that doctors should worry less about their cut in Medicare funding, failing to mention who should make them worry less. Do we expect doctors, medical professors or the government to make them worry less? In addition, if doctors worry less, will this help the sick? Without these clarifying points, simply stating that doctors should worry less about pay cuts is meaningless, and hence, not rational.
We professors have the obligation to insist that our students express themselves rationally. This is the basis of Western university education. The editorial says it is unfair to blame one political party. We need to focus on rational thought, not emotional thought focused on fairness.
The conclusion of the article, saying that our current lifestyle cannot continue, is also irrational, as it lacks justification and evidence. On the contrary, the creative energy by university students will help our country to grow and prosper with ever improving lifestyles. The evidence of this is clear over the past centuries. At Rider University, we wish to help students become creative and then to work to make the world a better place. We wish our students the best in the future.
-Dr. Sanford Aranoff
Adjunct Associate Professor of Mathematics

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