"Since September 11, 2001, the United States has launched a war on terror, but it has neglected the deeper causes of global instability."  ...It will never succeed if it doesn't "address the plight of the world's poorest of the poor, whose societies are destabilized by extreme poverty and thereby become havens of unrest, violence, and even global terrorism." 

Jeffrey Sachs in  The End of Poverty 

Excerpts from  actually THINKING:


"… the scale of challenges we humans face calls for recognizing tough realities without sanitizing them with the whitewash of cherished belief."

from page 14


We owe, in the most serious and intense meaning the word can carry, a decent, stable, and enjoyable world to generations yet to come. On this we must not fail! 

from page 19



For an ongoing discussion of issues, visit       

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About the Author

Watching the fabric of civilization begin to unravel and the genocide unfold in Rwanda in 1994, Doug Matheson witnessed major societal convulsions.  He saw a lesser example of the same in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1980-81.  Being present during this type of chaos could be considered a misfortune, but, from a learning perspective, he has turned it into an opportunity. 

The process of really learning from life requires at least:  careful observation, honest questioning and weighing of evidence, and a willingness to change your mind when warranted.  In short, this means being willing to move beyond what you happen to believe.  Matheson grew up the child of missionaries with a clearly defined set of beliefs.  Learning to question, to analyze, to re-evaluate, to think, to change, to grow, has been a life-long process for him.

Applying the learned habits from his career as a science educator to honestly evaluating humanity’s current circumstances and challenges has led him to cease being a silent citizen.  He points out that our times are a strange mix of privilege and peril.  In filling what he sees as all of our roles as responsible adults to “leave a decent, stable, and enjoyable world to future generations,” he draws on an unusually diverse life experience.

Besides Lebanon and Rwanda, he has also lived in Canada, India, Singapore, and France.  Applying thinking, not just believing, to this breadth of life experience has given him insight into how America is perceived around the world, the mix of distortion and reality behind those perceptions, the results of our actions in the world, and much about the broader human circumstance. 

As a no-longer-silent citizen of the United States, he brings the same objective thinking to a number of critical internal political matters.  He’s honest, and therefore not always politically correct.




About the Book

“In ‘actually THINKING vs. just BELIEVING’, Doug Matheson discusses the importance of learning how  to think, not just what  to think.  The failure to do this has huge repercussions.  He also calls upon us all, including Christian conservatives, to take seriously humankind's stewardship of the planet on a practical level, and he asks everyone to take action to correct the sad inequalities of a world in which, in his words, 'our myopic preoccupation with economic growth and personal accumulation of wealth' leads us to ignore deterioration of ecosystems at home and around the world, and the growing threat to political stability globally.  This book is of value to anyone who believes we can be doing better.” 

“This is powerful and will have wide appeal... it's fresh, challenging, and interesting."

The above quotes are from Gwyneth Cravens, author of numerous articles published in The New Yorker and Harper’s Magazine, and of several books including, “Power to Save the World:  the Truth about Nuclear Energy.”  

actually THINKING” is about our mindsets and our future.  It examines our biases, it deals with the real-world politics of terrorism and our foreign policy, and it delves into a variety of internal matters that will ultimately keep us a stable and sustainable nation and culture, or see us fragment and weaken into irrelevance, or even devolve into chaos.

The contrast between believing, based on conscious choice or not, and analytically thinking is the central theme of this book.  It points out that we cannot begin to deal realistically with the myriad challenges of our time without first recognizing the influence of our philosophical starting points, and then learning to step beyond the shoes we happen to have grown up in. 

Table of Contents



Section I.  Setting the Scene:  Our Convictions, and Facing Our Problems


Chapter 1.  Rwanda’s Tragedy:  Lessons Toward Re-evaluating Belief


Chapter 2.  Is Being “A Man of Conviction” Enough?: 

                   Our Loyalties, What Drives Them, and Alternatives to the

                   Tendency to Fight



Section II.  The Immediate & Long-term War Against Terrorism


          Chapter 3.  Beyond  “I Want It Now”:  The Battle vs. the War


          Chapter 4.  “My” Better Angels:  The Role of Religion in this War


          Chapter 5.  Confidence vs. Cockiness:  Reflections on Leadership


Chapter 6.  Theater of the Absurd:  Endless Excuses for Having

         Invaded Iraq, and Lessons to be Learned


Section III.  America’s Durable Internal Stability


          Chapter 7.  Nobody Left Behind – But Who Gets Shortchanged?:

                            Education in America Today


Chapter 8.  Intelligent Design vs. Evolution:  Letting the Evidence

                   Speak for Itself in Science Education


          Chapter 9.  Too Many Topics – Not Enough Time:  (Immigration,

         Soft and Spoiled, Energy, & Affirmative Action)


          Chapter 10. Wishful Thinking:  Low Taxes and Great Services vs.

         A Balanced Budget


Appendix A:  Self-Evident Truths