Summary of Defending Against the Indefensible

Topics: Question, Sentence, Concept Pages: 2 (796 words) Published: November 17, 2007
In Neil Postman's "Defending Against the Indefensible", he suggests that our society has been culturally brainwashed. Therefore, Postman has given us seven key elements of critical thinking to help us understand the English language and avoid the manipulation of language: definition, questions, simplicity of words, metaphors, reification, style and tone, and the non-neutrality of media. Postman's first principle is that a definition is only a means of helping us achieve our goals. Definitions do not have the power to stop us from achieving our purposes. Definitions will always have a bias. It is our job to spot that bias and question who wrote the definition, why, and for what purpose. The word "organic" is seen quiet frequently to represent whole foods that are made without preservatives and or pestecides. In actual fact organic means based on the carbon molecule. The word organic can be used commercially to pass off carbon based goods as healthy, which is not necessarily the case. Postman points out, that our definitions were not handed to us by God on stone tablets like the ten commandments, they were written by man, and therefore biased by the people that wrote them. The second principle in Postman's essay, is that all the knowledge we have acquired in this world is due to the questions we have asked. He suggests three points. First, since questions are the root of all knowledge, we should be teaching the art of questioning in our school systems. Second, Postman explains that for every question asked, there is always an alternate question that could be asked which would offer a different answer. And third, He suggests that the rules of asking questions will shift as we change the subject of knowledge that is being examined. How we question the world will determine what we know about the world. Next, Postman suggests that simple words are in fact the hardest words to understand. Many words such as right, correct, true, and law can be...
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