July 28th, 2008A Field Guide to Critical Thinking
by James Lett
There are many reasons for the popularity of paranormal beliefs in the United States today, including:
- the irresponsibility of the mass media, who exploit the public taste for nonsense,
- the irrationality of the American world-view, which supports such unsupportable claims as life after death and the efficacy of the polygraph, and
- the ineffectiveness of public education, which generally fails to teach students the essential skills of critical thinking.
As a college professor, I am especially concerned with this third problem. Most of the freshman and sophomore students in my classes simply do not know how to draw reasonable conclusions from the evidence. At most, they’ve been taught in high school what to think; few of them know how to think.