Critical Thinking: Our Salvation
Our society is experiencing the sweeping torrent of what I like to call anti-intellectualism. Social Media and algorithms have confined people to echo chambers and kept people away from ideas that are contrary to their own. While this keep users engaged on the platforms, this is dangerous.
When people are only exposed to ideas that mirror their own, there is no opportunity for knowledge to flourish. More often than not, hearing the reasons someone has for holding a certain belief enables understanding across both sides. Furthermore, plenty of social media outlets and other groups publish content that lacks any true meaning, is illogical, or worse yet, simply false. However, if said content matches the views of the person consuming the content, then it most likely gets a free pass while content that goes against a person’s views will be scrutinized more fiercely. If we want to have a society that sincerely values noteworthy ideas, we need to criticize all content in an equal manner. Applying this method of equal scrutiny will make it obvious why some ideas are deemed better than others and allow the better ideas to be improved upon instead of creating ideas that are counterproductive.
The American Education system has severely neglected critical thinking skills and instead encourages mindless obedience. This system is one that told everyone to go to college when it’s obvious that telling everyone young person in a society to go college will lead to large shortage of workers in what is often referred to as “blue-collar” work. However, our society appears to be more concerned with what the Kardashians are up to on a day to day basis rather than the quality of education future citizens are experiencing on a day to day basis. Our society then has the audacity to act genuinely surprised that a reality tv star ended up as President of the United States yet worshipped talentless individuals for over a decade. The advent of social media has allowed many people to group into echo chambers and completely ignore the other side of the conversation. Critical thinking necessitates that we should give each side the same amount of time and attention and that each individual should form her own opinion on which side is better, and more importantly, should be able to understand why one is better than the other.
The best way to combat anti-intellectualism isn’t to have Facebook determine whether or not news is real or not, rather it should lay in providing the tools for individuals to recognize things for themselves. Giving a platform to learn critical thinking skills in elementary or middle schools will enable children to build their critical thinking skills while also giving them the intellectual armor necessary to maintain sanity in our world.
Unfortunately, the movie “Idiocracy”, seems to be appearing more and more like our own reality. We have only ourselves to blame, unless we start to value education and implement critical thinking in schools and in our society as a whole, then the wave of anti-intellectualism will drown out voices of true reason.