Reading is Bad?!

“Any man who read too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.” – Albert Einstein

We had to write on this quote in Public Speech class today. It literally left me speechless (get it?!). At first, I didn’t even understand it. What does that even mean? Is he praising reading or chastising it? I was so confused because of my complete certainty he was not insulting reading. Surely he isn’t speaking of the activity that has been pushed into the faces of children since birth. He can’t be saying that the foundation for learning is bad for you!

Once the discussion started, it turned out the doubts that stayed in the back of my mind crept forward into the spotlight. Albert Einstein was saying reading stops creative thinking. He said that reading– my reading– makes a person stop having original thoughts and leads them to just spout off knowledge. This cannot be so!

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Then, I began to think (unless all the thoughts I had were other people’s thoughts…). It was a very philosophical moment. Millions of fragments ran through my brain.

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Me: Does that mean I’m stupid? Do I really know anything? Do I reference everything to books? I do reference everything to books! I always find a way! Everything I know is other people’s thoughts! How does anyone know anything? Am I incapable of forming decisions and coming to conclusions completely on my own? 

Ironically, I was even giving a speech that day about books. COULD I THINK OF NOTHING ELSE!? 

Once I finally jumped off the bus, I raced to my computer to look up the quote. And I found something very interesting.

Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who read too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.” -Albert Einstein 

The beginning part of the quote was missing! The world still makes sense! I’m not a zombie who only knows what I’ve read in books! A wave of relief washed over me, and I could finally breathe normally again.

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I was much happier when I discovered the final piece. Though I still don’t fully agree with the great Einstein, I at least understand it. It gave me quite a scare for a while. I mean, to find out that a supposedly helpful activity was really making me into a thoughtless and ordinary creature? That was too much to take in. Luckily, I can continue reading without thinking it was destroying my mind.

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