The Lost Art of Critical Thinking
Posted by Rick Ostopowicz on 23rd February 2017
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Some need this sign more than others…

Editor Rick here again, stepping out from behind the curtain to share a little more opinion with the Post readership.

For years, I taught at the college level. No matter what class I was teaching—English, communications, or history—I tried to impart one very important skill to my students. That skill was the ability to think critically.

In a world full of fake news or alternative facts (depending upon what side of the political fence you reside), critical thinking is a crucial skill that society desperately needs to employ. Unfortunately, many people believe whatever information they are given.

And that, folks, is a bad thing.

Case in point: if something is posted on the Internet, is it necessarily true? That is where critical thinking can come into play. On what site is the information posted? What is the source of the information? Is there an ulterior motive to release the information? Is there any truth to the information? If so, is the information being presented in the proper context?

These questions are all part of the critical thinking process.

Say, for example, that you decide to Google a fact to get more information. Your first search result takes you to Wikipedia. Do you believe what you read? Or do you realize that Wikipedia is a site that allows anyone to post or edit an article at any time, and few edits are ever challenged?

Another instance when critical thinking can help is thinking a situation through in a complete manner. A few years ago, some college-age people were saying that a college education should be provided free of charge. One student being interviewed was asked how the education system could afford to do such a thing, since those tuition dollars pay for the salaries and utilities that keep the schools operating. The student’s “brilliant” suggestion was that taxes should be raised on the “top 1%” to pay for “free college for everyone.” The interviewer then explained the flaw in that logic—if the top 1% was taxed at the highest rate possible, the additional tax revenue generated would not come close to covering the cost of the free higher education.

Critical thinking definitely could have helped there.

So, with all the information being thrown at you daily, do yourself a favor. Ask questions. Explore all possibilities. Don’t take everything at face value. And, above all, THINK. I am hoping it will become contagious.

And this world can use more logic.

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