Students should learn the scientific method, and most importantly how to apply its mental model to the world. The scientific method requires that hypotheses be tested in controlled conditions; this can diminish the effects of randomness and, often, personal bias. This is very valuable in a world where too many students fall victim to confirmation biases (people observe what they expect to observe), appeal to new and surprising things, and narrative fallacies (once a narrative has been built, it’s individual elements are more accepted). There are many, many types of human biases defined in psychology that people fall victim to. Failure to understand mathematical models and statistics makes it substantially more difficult to understand critical questions in daily life, from social sciences to science and technology, political issues, health claims and much more.
I’d like people to read a New York Times article and understand what is an assumption, what’s an assertion by the writer, what are facts, and what are opinions, and maybe even find the biases and contradictions inherent in many articles. We are far beyond the days of the media simply reporting news, shown by the different versions of the “news” that liberal and conservative newspapers in the US report, all as different “truths” of the same event. Learning to parse this media is critical. I’d like people to understand what is statistically valid and what is not. What is a bias or the color of the writer’s point of view.