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Can We Think Critically Anymore?

In a May 2015 New Yorker article, satirist Andy Borowitz warned of a “powerful new strain of fact-resistant humans who are threatening the ability of Earth to sustain life.” Although humans are endowed with an ability to “receive and process information,” he writes, these faculties have been rendered “totally inactive.”

Readers enjoy Borowitz because his writing is uncomfortably close to reality. While most articles are close enough to the ballpark you can hear the game, this particular piece hardly seems satirical. The medium of the Internet, where most people get their information and news on a daily basis, is not designed for nuanced, critical thinking; it incites our brain’s reptilian response system: scan it, believe it, rage against it (or proudly repost it without having read the content).

Cognitive psychologist and neuroscientist Daniel Levitin would agree. In fact, he’s written an entire book on the subject. The author of insightful previous works, This Is Your Brain on Music and The Organized Mind, in A Field Guide to Lies: Critical Thinking in the Information Age he takes to task our seemingly growing inability to weigh multiple ideas in making informed decisions, relying instead on emotional reactivity clouded by invented statistics and murky evidence.

Source: Big Think