Essay writing tip: question everything

I first heard this tip from my GP teacher, way back in 2000 when phones could only make calls and send messages (no internet on phones!), and when one of the five co-founders of Facebook (Mark Zuckerberg) was only 17 years old. At the time, I didn’t know that this quote was attributed to Einstein (The Albert!), but that’s how far this quote has travelled to get to you. Depending on who you ask, the idea may even have originated in the discourses of the ancient philosophers (wow). WOW!

Here it is, the idea that has survived longer than any of us has been alive: question everything.

Question everything.

A fellow blogger puts it in naked terms:
…let me tell all my fellow citizens that deception comes from everywhere. Your parents probably have lied to you before. Your teachers have not told you everything. Newspapers conduct misleading, shabby polls and print biased news. Life isn’t like they show on TV. Magazines publish more articles about brands that pay more ad dollars. And yes, governments – they withhold information too, manipulate statistics, spin the news, censor, mislead, distract, fight dirty, dirty wars online.” (Read Daniel’s original blogpost here — DRUMS and Dumb Singaporeans)

When you are writing an essay, check your arguments. Question your arguments, try to find flaws in them, and plug the holes. When you first begin to do this, it may feel slightly strange, and you may even end up writing essays that start with a particular stand but end with the opposite viewpoint (please don’t do that!). This is where essay planning comes in — you question your arguments at the planning stage, not the writing stage.

Even when you graduate from school, the habit of questioning everything is going to be helpful. The blogpost I linked to above shows how useful the habit can be when we deal with the media and the discourse of politicians. I’ll say that it’s even useful for querying the very meaning of life. (WAH).

How to do it? Well, most people question life and ask what it has to offer them. So, I questioned my question. Instead of asking what life had to offer me, I asked: what do I have to offer life? Hmm.

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