Home > Critical Thinking > 3 or is it 2 Cups of Tea?

3 or is it 2 Cups of Tea?

File:Greg Mortenson portrait.jpgI haven’t read the book so I don’t have a whole lot to say about the scandal involving Greg Mortenson’s apparent lack of truthfulness. Stories like these greatly disappoint me because it is so difficult for readers to guard against this. I spend a lot of time reading nonfiction but I can hardly fact-check everything I come across – and I’m right not to; it’d be a massive waste of time. Only if something seems particularly questionable or significant will I spend some time investigating it.

Contrast that with the ability to critically evaluate arguments. The concept of “critical thinking” is too glibly tossed around. You hear educators constantly emphasize the benefits of critical thinking but so little time is actually spent teaching the skill. Critical thinking is not the same as doing difficult schoolwork or pondering the universe or figuring out the best way to structure a tax code (although it is crucial to do any of those well). It is also not fact-checking. Critical thinking is about reading an argument and being able to judge its merits even when all the facts are solid. It’s difficult, but readers should be expected to determine if the authors’ reasoning is flawed. But the general public needs some goodwill along with hardworking publishers and journalists to ensure what we’re reading at least gets the basic facts right.

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Categories: Critical Thinking
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