The Day Critical Thinking Died

I was saving this draft to use before our next election….but my friend, Doug, over at has a series about critical thinking so I thought I would add my thoughts to his.

An recently article told of the slide in American IQ scores…..(once again “Idiocracy” was very prophetic back in the day)….

New research indicates that the average intelligence quotient (IQ) in the US has declined for the first time in nearly 100 years. But does this mean that the population of the US is actually getting dumber? Not necessarily.

Researchers at Northwestern University and the University of Oregon looked at the results of online IQ tests taken by 394,378 adults in the US from 2006 to 2018.

The team was looking to see whether they could find evidence of the Flynn effect, the idea that the IQ of a population generally appears to increase each generation. As the study authors noted: IQ scores have “substantially increased since 1932 and through the 20th century, with differences ranging from 3.0 to 5.0 IQ points”.

Instead, however, they found the opposite. Overall, the results suggest IQ points had declined over the study period, although the researchers didn’t state exactly how many IQ points have dropped.

Declines were seen widely across the board regardless of age and gender, but the steepest slump was found among people with lower levels of education and younger participants aged 18 to 22.

That brought me to the subject of critical thinking and how it has died and no longer applicable.

No one seems to want to look at all sides of a question before firing off an unloaded mind.

In today’s go go go society and emotionally driven society. Many people don’t invest the time to think before they respond, act, do, you name it. I did say “invest’ for a reason, because you are making an investment when you slow down, think, make a plan, and then take action.

Critical thinking is by far one of the most unused skillsets in today’s culture. The culture instead is constantly being told what to think, and then people decide whether they agree or disagree with whatever it is based on their biases. In most cases, depending on who said it is more important to them on whether they believe it or not. The test is who said it, not is it true or not.

Then there is those opinions….Whoever is the loudest usually gets the most attention. It has nothing to do with the credibility of the person. It really comes down to who has the largest platform and can reach the most people. The problem with opinions these days is too many times they are packaged as “real news”, when in reality they are not news based on facts or evidence. It is usually based on subjective views of a given situation.

Personally I feel that social media has lead to the suicide of critical thinking……(but that is just me)

The idea that critical thinking is ‘dead’ is not a new one. The basis for defining and explaining how this problem emerged has varied. Some have firmly placed blame at the feet of formal higher education, where instead of profound thinking and evaluation educators are focused more on indoctrination which leads to the consuming of “fake news” and the embracing of conspiracy theories. Some feel bad journalism is at the heart of the problem, where editorial control has almost disappeared, fluff pieces get top billing as ‘must reads,’ and the emerging preference for something called ‘iterative reporting,’ which is a far cry from legitimate journalistic professionalism. Some have waded into the waters of modern-day entertainment, claiming the oversaturation of spoon-fed media platforms has created the unanticipated consequence of de facto eliminating the human need to read, think, and imagine.  In essence, Netflix killed critical thinking. Still others have taken a gendered approach to explaining the problem, wondering if the problem in the dearth of deep philosophical musing is not because philosophy is dead as much as people are tired of the same old cisgendered white males being the bulwark for such study. That if the modern-age globalized liberated community could only get more globalized and liberated voices to study, they would. Finally, others worry about how this death is not accidental but caused by ‘predatory’ pseudo-intellectual efforts, whether that is the endorsement of ‘alternative facts,’ ‘post-truth,’ the ‘assault on reason,’ or the emergence of purposefully fake ‘scholarly journals’ aimed at spreading misinformation and debunked science

So is critical thinking dead?

From all I can gather is that it is and has died an agonizing death.

But a small way to return to the path of enlightenment……

Soon after the Russian invasion, the hoaxes began. Ukrainian refugees were supposedly taking jobs, committing crimes, and abusing handouts. The misinformation spread rapidly online throughout Eastern Europe, sometimes pushed by Moscow in an effort to destabilize its neighbors. It’s the kind of swift spread of falsehood that has been blamed in many countries for increased polarization and an erosion of trust in democratic institutions, journalism, and science. But countering or stopping misinformation has proven elusive, reports the AP. New findings from university researchers and Google, however, reveal that one of the most promising responses to misinformation may also be one of the simplest.

In a paper published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, researchers detail how short online videos that teach basic critical thinking skills can make people better able to resist misinformation. It’s an approach called “pre-bunking” and it builds on years of research into an idea known as inoculation theory that suggests exposing people to how misinformation works, using harmless, fictional examples, can boost their defenses to false claims. Google plans to roll out a series of pre-bunking videos soon in Eastern Europe focused on scapegoating, which can be seen in much of the misinformation about Ukrainian refugees. That focus was chosen by Jigsaw, a division of Google that works to find new ways to address misinformation and extremism.

Pre-bunking videos, however, don’t target specific claims, and they make no assertions about what is true or not. Instead, they teach the viewer how false claims work in general—whether it’s a claim about elections or NASA’s moon landings, or the latest outbreak of the avian flu. That transferability makes pre-bunking a particularly effective way of confronting misinformation, according to John Cook, a research professor at Australia’s Monash University who has created online games that teach ways to spot misinformation. “We’ve done enough research to know this can be effective,” Cook said. “What we need now is the resources to deploy this at scale.”

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”


5 thoughts on “The Day Critical Thinking Died

  1. It’s the same everywhere, chuq. ‘Soundbites’, ‘Knee-jerk reactions’, and no searching for truth.
    I wake up some days and believe that the ‘civilised world’ has lost its way. The life I once knew is over, and I am lucky to be old enough not to see or experience the worst to come.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  2. You can quote me if you wish .. “”Despite our supposedly remarkable intelligence, it is disheartening to acknowledge that humans are much too often susceptible to entertaining and even propagating utterly asinine notions.”

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