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Public Can Use Tip or 2 on Critical-Thinking Precepts

October 09, 1990

I appreciated your recent column (View, Joseph Bell, Sept. 4) on teaching journalism students critical-thinking. Those precepts can apply to the general public.

The surveys which you use as examples are presented to support the composer's point of view. If you give a qualified response, it will now show in the final tabulation. I find these slanted inquiries in my mail frequently with an accompanying letter which asks for as much money as I can give, presupposing that I am in accordance with a specific conclusion. These surveys end in the sack for recycled papers, so there is some very small tangible value to them.

We also give partisan groups misleading names. I refer specifically to the "pro-life" organizations. Their name means that if you do not actively support them, you are "anti-life." My wife and I recently returned from a group tour of France and Iberia. Together with 20 other individuals, we were thrown together in a bus for 19 days. One man with the voice of Stentor and politics to the right of Bob Dornan felt it appropriate to harangue us with his "pro-life" and other views daily. He was the type who makes one want to pretend that he is not a member of the group when it appears in public. When I questioned him on his views on death sentences for Richard Ramirez and Randy Kraft, he answered that he supported them. I pointed out that he should then identify himself as "anti - abortion" rather than "pro-life." The inconsistency was lost on him.

I also do not understand "traditional American values." Do these refer to all Americans, including those whose ancestry includes Africans, Chinese, Samoans, et al., or only those from Northern and Western Europe? Do they include Buddhists, Muslims (particularly in view of present tensions in the Middle East), agnostics and atheists? Whenever I hear the President, or others, lauding "traditional" values, I feel that that person is blowing smoke.

Your columns continue to be in accord with my views. That's a reason for me to enjoy them so much. Keep up the good work.

RAY BRACY

Tustin

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