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2016: Critical Thinking Needed


Almost four years ago, I wrote a blog post about academic honesty. I have been thinking about that topic and honesty in general a lot over the past month or so. That led me to thinking about how quick we are to believe the things we read on social media. A bit of a leap, I know, but bear with me.

My thought process:


We are now living in a time when information, of all kinds, is literally at our fingertips. It is so easy to quickly read a Facebook post or tweet without really comprehending what is being said or looking at the source material. I am not talking about the cute cat picture with inspirational quotes or even the pictures of long dead presidents quoting them as having said not to believe everything you read on the internet. I am talking about posts regarding current events that may not be completely accurate.

People, myself included, will read something that they happen to agree with, take it as fact, and repost. This only leads to the spreading of misinformation, which can sometimes be dangerous. I am in no way saying that the intent of the person reposting is to spread misinformation, but I think it is important that we all take a moment to really read and comprehend some of the things we see on social media before reposting. We need more critical thinking.

I cannot tell you how many times I have seen a post shared from a satirical source that ends up being taken as fact. I have done it myself. I have also seen many posts with completely false information presented as fact. Just last month, I saw a post with a picture from riots in Greece in 2012 stating that it was a picture from election protests this year in the US.  That is the type of post that could be dangerous misinformation if spread.

Social media is a great tool, when used appropriately. Students today have grown up with social media as one of the biggest sources for current events. Part of the responsibility of being a teacher is helping your students learn how to process information and think for themselves. What can you do in your classrooms to help your students use critical thinking to navigate information presented on social media and eventually filter though everything to find the “truth”? Leave a comment with your thoughts.

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4 Responses to 2016: Critical Thinking Needed

  1. Thank you for the great post. I do completely agree with the author. It is a very important thing to filter what we read and from where we get this information. The critical approach to grasping the information is the only way to have only the true information and to get rid of misinformation.

  2. Diane M.T. North, Ph.D, Trinity College 1966 says:

    Thank you for asking important questions. As a professor at the University of Maryland University College, I work on ways to help students learn to think critically. Next week, I shall give a presentation at an international faculty conference on teaching critical thinking. In addition, I have created question strategies for discussions and written assignments that foster critical thinking, reading lists on critical thinking and fake news, assignments on web resource and fake news evaluations, key word definitions for analyzing material, and information about logical fallacies within arguments. We need to teach our students how to recognize fake news (print and images), to be especially cautious using social media, and to be unafraid to speak up when they encounter lies and distorted facts, including those disseminated by “authority figures.” Also, I regard social media as inherently dangerous because of its clear and proven threats to truth and civil liberties. Until Facebook and Google (to name a few) improve their practices and eliminate fake new, I advise students to avoid social media.
    January 29, 2017

  3. Thank you for providing this information.

  4. Critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally, understanding the logical connection between ideas. Critical thinking has been the subject of much debate and thought since the time of early Greek philosophers such as Plato and Socrates and has continued to be a subject of discussion into the modern age.Critical thinking might be described as the ability to engage in reflective and independent thinking.

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