The Death of Critical Thinking


Everyone thinks, right? It’s what we do. But much of our thinking, left to itself, is biased, distorted, partial, uninformed, or downright prejudiced. Yet, it seems more and more these days that people, rather than exercising critical thinking, are okay with allowing their thinking to be biased, distorted, partial, uninformed, or downright prejudiced.

So what is critical thinking? Well, it’s not negative thinking. It’s not being argumentative. It’s not being blindly critical of someone or something. Critical thinking is the ability to engage in reflective and independent thinking. It involves the objective evaluation of data, facts, observable phenomenon, and research findings.

Seems simple enough. Don’t take things at face value. Gather the relevant information, objectively evaluate the facts, and come to a well-reasoned conclusion. Easy-peasy.

Apparently it’s not so easy-peasy. Our educational system seems to be more intent on indoctrination than on teaching students to think critically. As a result, a large numbers of Americans are uncritically consuming “fake news,” falling for conspiracy theories, and believing all kinds of crazy, baseless assertions about their fellow citizens.

America now has a reality TV star and questionably successful real estate mogul in the Oval Office. This man has a tendency to tweet to all the world his immediate, uncritical reactions to whatever he hears or sees. He has neither the interest nor the patience to gain any depth of understanding regarding those areas for which he, in his role as president, is responsible for.

This ill-informed man was able to persuade enough gullible Americans, who lack sufficient critical thinking skills, that he has all the answers. Without the ability to distinguish fake news from real news or to understand the basic workings of their own government, they fell hook, line, and sinker for his claims that he alone knew better than the generals or than anyone else how to “make America great again.”

And even with ample evidence that our president lacks the temperament, the emotional skills, and the intellectual competence to master the role into which he was elected, there are still those who look at him uncritically and believe him to be the greatest thing since sliced bread.

We are witnessing the death of critical thinking in America.

Written for today’s one-word prompt, “critical.”

13 thoughts on “The Death of Critical Thinking

  1. theworldoutsidethewindow September 1, 2017 / 9:44 am

    A timely post. I think you’re right that there is something going wrong at the education stage. I feel it’s the same in the UK. Doesn’t it suit the supporters of neo-liberalism though to teach us to have no critical thinking as they can maintain the status quo, i.e. The mega rich get richer? Also what should we do about it over in our liberal bubble? I don’t have the answers but I wonder how change can really occur with the system set up to promote blind consumerism etc etc…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango September 1, 2017 / 10:20 am

      In the States, our educational system is more focused on raising scores on standardized achievement tests than on teaching students how to exercise their brains. I don’t have any answers, either, but we need to improve our teaching methods and objectives before we find ourselves living in a world of mental zombies.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. curioushart September 1, 2017 / 10:48 am

    I taught mathematics for over twenty years at a large urban high school. Critical thinking was my primary tool (along with literacy.) I have seen enough examples of non-critical thinking in education to agree that it exists; however, there are positive hot-beds of critical and complex thinking to be found in public schools. What I have seen in my experience that critical thinking is most likely to occur in the classroom, among teachers and students, than at the administrative and policy-making level. Exhibit A: the newly-appointed Secretary of Education.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Fandango September 1, 2017 / 1:34 pm

      You’re right. There are good teachers and good school systems that effectively promote critical thinking, but they seem to be the exception these days and not the rule. And with our new Secretary of Education, it’s bound to get worse.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Kijo September 1, 2017 / 11:38 am

    From what I have seen, humans follow emotions, then use reason to justify emotional decisions. Before humans can think freely, they must deal with their base emotion, which is fear.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Marilyn Armstrong September 1, 2017 / 11:43 am

    I know there are a bunch of losers out there, the ones that are sure that their prez is fixing everything better than ever before. But I actually this this mess has improved critical thinking among other people. More people are looking things up without just believing them and that includes kids like my granddaughter. More people also seem to know something about how the government works that before. So that’s the good part.

    The bad part is whether or not any of this will get these people to VOTE.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Fandango September 1, 2017 / 1:36 pm

      So what you’re suggesting is that there is one good outcome from the disaster of a president we elected.


  5. newepicauthor September 1, 2017 / 12:10 pm

    I love your post, and I agree that there are a lot of gullible Americans, but I think our leader got into office because he promoted hatred and our country is full of haters. Teaching must start at home with the parents and most of the parents are too stupid to instill proper values in their children. I found an Easter egg in your story. You may want to fix this, ‘there are are still those’.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Sight11 September 1, 2017 / 12:26 pm

    I believe media has a major part to play in the Requiem. After all it’s one of the killers of ‘Critical Thinking’.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Fandango September 1, 2017 / 3:34 pm

      It’s not the media’s fault that people want to only consume pablum and in small, bite-sized doses.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sight11 September 1, 2017 / 8:15 pm

        No, Sensei. I mean the rise of tabloid news instead of mainstream media, that slowly died. Remember in the late 90’s media was a field that hold objectivity and unbiased nature as the core of their craft, along with the quintessential investigative techniques. Cut to today’s time and it seems that the same media is now looking to get ‘subjective’ and ‘personalised’ in their rhetoric. It seems that the golden days of mainstream media have withered away from the memory, slowly and painfully dying from the consciousness of the new generation.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Fandango September 1, 2017 / 8:57 pm

          I can’t disagree. News reporting ain’t what it used to be back in the days of Walter Cronkite.

          Liked by 1 person

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