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?
Steven Pinker — in addition to refuting Gladwell — has a brilliant, clarion opinion on what education ought to be, writing in The New Republic, “It seems to me that educated people should know something about the 13-billion-year prehistory of our species and the basic laws governing the physical and living world, including our bodies and brains. They should grasp the timeline of human history from the dawn of agriculture to the present. They should be exposed to the diversity of human cultures, and the major systems of belief and value with which they have made sense of their lives. They should know about the formative events in human history, including the blunders we can hope not to repeat. They should understand the principles behind democratic governance and the rule of law. They should know how to appreciate works of fiction and art as sources of aesthetic pleasure and as impetuses to reflect on the human condition.”