Who Does the Thinking?
CANNED THINKING is the interesting title of a little essay we recently discovered in The Miniature. We feel certain that Willard Price, the author, will be glad to have us pass it on to the readers of FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING for whatever stimulation they may find in it.
“ We indulge too much in canned thinking. When it problem confront* us. we turn hopefully to our store of preserved thought “ put up” by grand mamas ami grandpapas anywhere from a century to forty centuries ago.
The longer the thinking has been canned the greater our respect for it and the more reverently we probe its depths. New hooks, new doctrines, new theories, are trash. Old tilings arc “classic”.
“Our opinions are second-hand — or seventysecond hand. We are atraid of brand-new. original opinions — afraid of getting Indigestion from the fresh fruit.
“ Fresh thinking is needed. Even erratic till liking will stimulate more progress than pickled knowledge can ever produce.
“ We call this a democracy. Mentally it is an oligarchy — a government by the few. Those few are mostly dead ones. And the supreme monarch i» 11 is Majesty, “ I’ve Heard Say.”
‘We believe or do not believe in labor unions, capitalism or the League of Nations, because So-and-So said such-and-such.
“ Our religion comes in cans. We think what we think because we have always thought it, and our mother and father thought it. and many good people have thought it. And whenever we have a doubt, we go back and reassure ourselves by reading over tlie labels that other iolks have pasted on.
“Our schools are great canning factories. Definitions, axioms, names, dates—we stock them away in tlie pantry of the brain; and in all the* other rooms, too, until the mind is so full of facts that we have no elbow-room left for thinking.
“Tlie human brain was intended to be a dynamo, not a waste-basket.
“ Canned conclusions should be avoided in favor of an actual, personal study of the facts. If time is lacking to make this study, then wise and brave is the man who will say, “ I don’t feel that I know enough about that matter to pass judgment upon it.”
” Each generation must do its own thinking. What was good enough for our ancestors I* most decidedly not good enough for us. For every new problem there must be a new answer. Canned thinking will not solve the dlllicultles of tlie present day.”