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When defining the term whistleblowers, there emerge a plethora of definition of this word, all of them can be simply narrowed to a title ascribed to a person who always tells the truth and is always eager to find the truth. However, the price of the truth is always high, as there are always persons who want sacrifice it for the sake of their welfare. Another term, which is closely associated with the above-mentioned term, is “a critical thinker”, a person who is always keen seeking the truth. Hence, critical thinkers always look for solid evidence and do not rely on ambiguous presumptions. They are always oriented on searching for the truth thus rejecting the information that is irrelevant and vague (Cogan 177).They are, therefore, obsessed with the absolute truth, which should be objective and independent. In this respect these two notions – whistleblowers and critical thinker – are persons who adhere to universal truth and, therefore whistleblowing is an act representative of critical thinkers.
The same position is brightly illustrated in the film the Insider by Michael Man where the main heroes – Jeffrey Wigand and Lowell Bergman – are trying to discover the truth and to fight against Big Tobacco company and CBS TV Network.. They are not perfect citizen with impeccable reputation but telling the truth, in fact, turns out to be a difficult task. Both are trying to reveal the facts but for different purposes. Hence, Jeffrey Wigand, a former manager of Tobacco company who has signed a confidentiality treaty after being fired from there. Being suppressed by the threats of BDS TV Networks, he is forced to reveal the truth to publicity. Despite the fact that he has violated the agreement, his intentions can be still considered to be good. Compared with Wigand, Lowell Bergman, the producer of the TV company, is hunting the truth for good purposes as well.
As it can be seen, both protagonists can be called as critical thinkers due to numerous reasons. In particular, Wigand blow the whistle for the sake of his family but not for the sake of discovering the truth whereas Bergman more close to critical thinkers who can trespass the law and morale to obtain the facts and disclose the truth. From this story, one can conclude that whistleblowers are not always referred as to positive characters as revealing the truth does not always have good consequences for society. On the other hand, Bergman’s veritable objective was also to prove that cigarettes produced by the company are harmful and addictive though the methods of finding the evidence were illegal. Wigand, hence, is a veritable critical thinker, which describing through the way he takes the decision.
In Allegory of the Cave, the Plato presents the idea that a person who has seen the fire or “the light” is able to see the reality and the truth. In this book, Plato describes the prisoners who are have led their lived in the cave. Being chained, they can look only straight; they are only capable of noticing the shadows of the individuals passing by their cave. Those shadows, hence, determines the reality for the prisoners. However, in case they want to see the real people but shadows they will have to turn around and to look at the fire that can cause aches and even might make them blind forever. Through this allegory, Plato intents to convey the idea that a whistleblower is a person who is eager to see that “fire” but to reach this solution, he/she should analyze whether it is worth looking at this fire thus making other realize the real value of the truth. This why Plato also highlight an assumption that whistleblowing is also an act of critical thinking, because a person also needs to fight for the truth before getting it. In Allegory of the Cave, the philosopher states that a person “would rather suffer anything than entertain these notions and live in this miserable manner” (Plato 414).
When reading the essay Self-Reliance by Emerson, one can pursue another dimension of the term whistleblowing, which is also connected with an individual as personality who should be always in the quest of knowledge. Hence, in the beginning of the author states, “to believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men – that is genius” (Emerson 259). This means that a person should to find the truth inside him/herself and only then he will be able to blow the whistle. In other words, Emerson renders the idea that each person is unique and, therefore, to cognate one’s thoughts and destination is a veritable act of critical thinking. To support the idea, the author also emphasizes that the truth is the final destinations so the methods applied for achieving it are trifle in comparison with what will be in the end the trip. As this point, it is possible to state blowing the whistle is more focused on the obtaining the truth and the process itself are not so important.
When correlating the definition of “whistleblowing” and “critical thinkers” with the Civil Disobedience, one can firmly state that those two notions are synonymous. In particular, Thoreau in his work states, “A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority” (Thoreau 392). That means that a whistleblower will desperately fight for his right even if society is against him/her. The power of a person, thus, consists in the power of truth. He/she, a whistleblower, can hold the power, in case he/she possesses the truth. A person who knows the truth can, thus, resist the majority who is ignorant. Hence, according to the author, “a minority is powerless while it confronts to the majority; it is not even a minority then; but it is irresistible when it clogs by its whole weight” (Thoreau 399). A person who blows the whistle should reject the laws that contradict the objective reality; he should eliminate the evil of this unjust institution and fight for justice and morale. In this way, a person accomplishes an act of critical thinking; once again, there arises the necessity to analyze, criticize, and investigate the issues before providing a viable solution, which equates the whisleblowing to the process of critical thinking.
In conclusion, it should be stressed that both definitions can be closely correlated in case a person needs to make certain decision before accepting the truth. Those persons who actively participate in the process of revealing the truth are always trying to find possible ways to fight against lies and injustice. In addition, whistleblowers are always people who are ready to experience suffering and to sacrifice their values in order to discover the evidence. All the literary works have proved that whistleblowers represent an act of critical thinking.
Cogan, Robert, Critical thinking: step by step. US: University Press of America, 1998.
Emerson, Ralphe Waldo, and Porte, Joel. Essays and Lectures. US: Library of America, 1983.
Plato. The Republic. US: Plain Label Books, 1975.
The Insider. Michael Man. Al Pacino and Russell Crowe. Blue Lion Entertainment, 1999.
Thoreau, Henry David. Walden; and, Civil Disobedience. US: Penguin Classics, 1983.