If you missed it, please go read our initial post yesterday on How do you know what to believe? before continuing.
Today we’re going to offer a (much shorter!!) post on techniques to build your critical thinking skills.
First, an easy one:
In our prior post we stated that you should not read the comments on online articles or Facebook, that they are cesspools that drain out all hope from the world.
Obviously, that’s our opinion! Right? You caught that yourself. Right?
When we were looking for something to back up our command that “you should not read the comments” we did what anyone would do — we went to Google. A search for “don’t read the comments” gave us this:
A Salon article on top? Hmmm. Salon is totally left-leaning. We opted instead for the Scientific American link, since that seemed promising, but it turned out to be not that great for our purposes. Scrolling down, we skipped all the weird links on that page and instead clicked on the one from The Telegraph which has “science” in the teaser text, which is exactly what we were looking for! It got us this:
There are no obvious tags on that article to indicate if it’s journalism (an attempt at unbiased reporting of the news) or opinion. But we didn’t need to read past the first paragraph to know that it wasn’t what we were looking for.
In case it’s not clear: A qualified journalist seeking to report objectively on a scientific study is not going to have that inflammatory comment about men in the first line.
Even if the study she was reporting on was about how men were shown to be hard to convince (or something), the way she wrote it instantly told us, as her reader, that she was not being objective in her reporting. It’s possible to state that a study came to a controversial conclusion without using loaded or judgmental sentences like that.
When you’re reading, be sure that you’re THINKING right along with it. Don’t go into passive-mode and just absorb. Interact with the ideas. Question them.
This post we found on Medium has some good advice: How do you know who to believe?
Use this test:
Is the person’s profession related to the topic they are talking about?
The writer then goes on to say that a politician talking about science is not necessarily a trustworthy source. All the politician can do is repeat what they have heard. They are not reciting information to you from their own studies or expertise.
Of course, this is an inexact tool. Case in point: This whole series of posts here on EssaySnark where we’re talking about how to evaluate news items for truth and accuracy. We are not trained scientists and don’t have any experience in journalism. All we’re offering is our perspective and some hopefully useful advice. The ‘Snark is not a definitive resource on this subject. Does that mean these articles are useless? Well, we’d like to think that it wasn’t a waste of your time to read them! But we acknowledge to not have actual expertise here.
It’s kind of like what you read on Wikipedia. Is everything there guaranteed to be true? Definitely not. However, our take is that it’s more likely to be so, based on the open nature of that resource and the way that the market of information on wikipedia is able to self-correct.
But let’s take another example:
Great to see this. @TheASBMiT . Our new business school is doing so great. We will be employing many. Think the students are fantastic. pic.twitter.com/aoT6mSrrJN
— Tony Fernandes (@tonyfernandes) March 27, 2017
That’s from the Asia School of Business, a MIT Sloan initiative, where a professor who also teaches at Harvard claimed this:
“At least five students in the first [Asia School of Business] class would easily earn Baker Scholar recognition if at Harvard. Only the top five per cent of the HBS class is given this recognition. That ASB has five such students in its inaugural class of 47 is quite remarkable.”
Would any of you care to offer any comments or responses about that quote, as a starting point for our further discussion?