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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Lighter BS: How can we restore a reason renaissance (324* d) RE: BS: How can we restore a reason renaissance 15 Dec 20


In my freshman year in college, long long ago in a galaxy...(you get the idea), I had to take a course in practical reasoning (alias "critical thinking"), which was easily the single most important course I ever took.

Boy, was I dumb! Like most of my classmates, I was ready to fall for anything, as long as it was neatly packaged, superficially plausible, and/or appealed to my prejudices. Syllogisms were a little beyond me.
Who on earth wouldn't instinctively affirm the consequent or deny the antecedent or do any of that other stuff I was warned against?

Eventually I saw just how gullible I'd been. I had a "protective glow" against a certain amount of bamboozlement, mendacity, and self-deception.

Years later, I was the teacher. Boy, were they dumb! But by the end of the semester, most of them (I think!) were developing a similar glow.

Now to answer the question.

I really believe the biggest problem, though not the only one, is the failure of the educational system (public and private) to emphasize reasoning skills from the start.

Just consider. I and my classmates and later students were all high-school graduates. We'd learned very little about logic. And we were among those young Americans who, first of all, got into college and, second of all, wanted to go.

Which leaves almost everybody else continuing to affirm the consequent, argue ad hominem, and believe 90% of appealing baloney instead of only the 5% or 10% or that I now believe.

Critical thinking has got to become a required course in every high school in the land.

You can't have a "reason renaissance" without teaching people how to reason.

Period.


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