The End of Critical Thinking By Brian Simpson
The New York Times has an article against critical thinking. This is so crazy ideological, let them have the first blow.
“For an academic, Michael Caulfield has an odd request: Stop overthinking what you see online.
Mr. Caulfield, a digital literacy expert at Washington State University Vancouver, knows all too well that at this very moment, more people are fighting for the opportunity to lie to you than at perhaps any other point in human history.
Misinformation rides the greased algorithmic rails of powerful social media platforms and travels at velocities and in volumes that make it nearly impossible to stop. That alone makes information warfare an unfair fight for the average internet user. But Mr. Caulfield argues that the deck is stacked even further against us. That the way we’re taught from a young age to evaluate and think critically about information is fundamentally flawed and out of step with the chaos of the current internet.
“We’re taught that, in order to protect ourselves from bad information, we need to deeply engage with the stuff that washes up in front of us,” Mr. Caulfield told me recently. He suggested that the dominant mode of media literacy (if kids get taught any at all) is that “you’ll get imperfect information and then use reasoning to fix that somehow. But in reality, that strategy can completely backfire.”
In other words: Resist the lure of rabbit holes, in part, by reimagining media literacy for the internet hellscape we occupy.
It’s often counterproductive to engage directly with content from an unknown source, and people can be led astray by false information. Influenced by the research of Sam Wineburg, a professor at Stanford, and Sarah McGrew, an assistant professor at the University of Maryland, Mr. Caulfield argued that the best way to learn about a source of information is to leave it and look elsewhere, a concept called lateral reading.
Our current information crisis, Mr. Caulfield argues, is an attention crisis.
“The goal of disinformation is to capture attention, and critical thinking is deep attention,” he wrote in 2018. People learn to think critically by focusing on something and contemplating it deeply — to follow the information’s logic and the inconsistencies.
That natural human mind-set is a liability in an attention economy. It allows grifters, conspiracy theorists, trolls and savvy attention hijackers to take advantage of us and steal our focus. “Whenever you give your attention to a bad actor, you allow them to steal your attention from better treatments of an issue, and give them the opportunity to warp your perspective,” Mr. Caulfield wrote.
One way to combat this dynamic is to change how we teach media literacy: Internet users need to learn that our attention is a scarce commodity that is to be spent wisely.
In 2016, Mr. Caulfield met Mr. Wineburg, who suggested modeling the process after the way professional fact checkers assess information. Mr. Caulfield refined the practice into four simple principles:
- Investigate the source.
- Find better coverage.
- Trace claims, quotes and media to the original context.
Otherwise known as SIFT.
Mr. Caulfield walked me through the process using an Instagram post from Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a prominent anti-vaccine activist, falsely alleging a link between the human papillomavirus vaccine and cancer. “If this is not a claim where I have a depth of understanding, then I want to stop for a second and, before going further, just investigate the source,” Mr. Caulfield said. He copied Mr. Kennedy’s name in the Instagram post and popped it into Google. “Look how fast this is,” he told me as he counted the seconds out loud. In 15 seconds, he navigated to Wikipedia and scrolled through the introductory section of the page, highlighting with his cursor the last sentence, which reads that Mr. Kennedy is an anti-vaccine activist and a conspiracy theorist.
“Is Robert F. Kennedy Jr. the best, unbiased source on information about a vaccine? I’d argue no. And that’s good enough to know we should probably just move on,” he said.
He probed deeper into the method to find better coverage by copying the main claim in Mr. Kennedy’s post and pasting that into a Google search. The first two results came from Agence France-Presse’s fact-check website and the National Institutes of Health. His quick searches showed a pattern: Mr. Kennedy’s claims were outside the consensus — a sign they were motivated by something other than science.”
However, the problem with this methodology is that it simply confirms the status quo, as the vaccination example proves. It is systems confirming and supports ultimately the globalist elites. That is where this newspaper has its bias, and naturally it does not tolerate the sort of free-wheeling debate we believe in, where everything, and everybody is questioned. The principles discussed above would probably be rejected by thinkers from Plato onto even liberal free thinkers like Bertrand Russell. I go with these intellectuals, not the moth-eaten NYT.