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Thoughts Without A Thinker

Cognitive decline in the era of brilliance.

3 min readAug 3, 2022


Lost among the treasures of the past is an educational system that lies dormant in a world that is crying out for change.

In the Middle Ages, education was based on the Trivium, a syllabus consisting of three parts: Grammar, Dialectic, and Rhetoric. The Trivium was a preliminary discipline that served as the foundation for the Quadrivium, which consisted of “subjects,” that built upon the initial, three-pronged syllabus.

Each of the three part play an important role in a student’s educational foundation. Grammar helped students to understand the structure of language and how it worked. Dialectic helped them to ask questions and probe beneath the surface of things. And Rhetoric helped them to express their understanding in a clear and persuasive way. In a very basic way, the Trivium taught students how assimilate and process information — in other words, how to think!

But education has changed. The fundamentals of thinking, in many instances, have been replaced with the immediacy of telling — the expectoration of facts with little or no support of basic knowledge. The result is the barking idiot, spewing empty rhetoric that, on first blush, may be factually correct, but is built on nothing more than a superficially acquired handful of facts.

This dynamic plays out in many aspects of our lives and can become simply irritating or even dangerous. The list feels as endless as the vapid rhetoric itself. The 25-year-old political pundit, the armchair immunology expert, and the overnight social medial influencer are typical examples of today’s voices that stand precariously on a house of facts but not on a solid cognitive foundation. And the “arbiters of truth” who control the dialogue often no better informed.

Sadly, it seems that yelling loudly is a mechanism to establish credibility and validity. And our public educational system seems to support this with the “un-cognitive” process of teaching to the test combined with inflated grades that reward the ego, but not the brain.

Further, technology can certainly be implicated as it becomes inculcated into education, work and life. The smartphone has become the conduit for facts and figures that instantaneously…




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