The Lost Art of Critical Thinking

By Julie Roys
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“Logic! Why don’t they teach logic at these schools?” That’s the question posed by the professor in C.S. Lewis’ classic tale, “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.” He was lamenting the lack of critical thinking on the part of the Pevensie children. But, he also was expressing Lewis’ frustration concerning the academics of his day. As a professor at Oxford University in the mid nineteen-hundreds, Lewis knew well those academics who were rejecting logic and replacing it with deconstructionist nonsense.

Well, now comes a study that would make old Clive roll over in his grave. The study is published in a new book, called “Academically Adrift.” And, it found that 45-percent of college students show no significant improvement in critical thinking and complex reasoning by the end of their sophomore year! The authors of the study blame the findings on students failing to study and colleges valuing research over good teaching. And certainly, those factors play a role. However, I believe this dearth of critical thinking naturally flows from our narrow-minded and politically correct educational system.

You see, schools no longer teach kids how to think; they teach them what to think. And, if students oppose the pedagogical “group think” with truth, they’re often marginalized and ridiculed.

Take Global Warming. A friend of mine has had numerous interactions with science teachers on this topic. On a Parent-Teacher Night, he heard a biology teacher boldly assert that man-made Global Warming is the “biggest threat facing mankind.” But, when asked what the current global ice-coverage was for the world, the teacher had no idea – nor how to find out.

On another occasion, my friend asked a science teacher why earth’s temperature wasn’t following all the various Global Warming models. The teacher dismissed the question by explaining that all “real scientists” by a margin of 99 to one believe in man-made Global Warming.” When my friend asked for the source of his data, the teacher replied, “This is just common knowledge,” and repeated the 99 to one ratio.

Of course, this same uncritical adherence to the party line exists when teaching life’s origins. In 2002, Congress passed a landmark statement declaring that when controversial topics like evolution are taught, “the curriculum should help students to understand the full range of scientific views.” Yet, science teachers refuse to acknowledge that a controversy between evolution and Intelligent Design even exists. Recently, a friend of mine complained about this to two members of our local high school board. They erroneously replied that federal law prohibits teaching Intelligent Design!

The truth is, teachers and school boards shield students from evidence that contradicts their belief system. Eugenie Scott, director of the National Center for Science Education, expresses it well. She says evidence against evolution will only confuse high school teachers and students. This evidence must remain the sole possession of the “scientific community,” which can then “filter” the information for the uneducated masses. With thinking like that, it’s a wonder anyone learns to think at all!

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6 thoughts on “The Lost Art of Critical Thinking”

  1. Wow… I can’t believe you have the audacity to write this. You really do enjoy irony don’t you…

    From the post: “…schools no longer teach kids how to think; they teach them what to think.”

    I disagree with this. Bad teachers do this, good teachers don’t – and there are both kids in our schools today.

    But – what is so mindblowing about this statement is that you lament this idea when it’s applied to schools – but this is EXACTLY what religion does. Any difficult questions get the stock answer ‘god did it – we aren’t to know the mind of god’. Religion is one HUGE excercise in group-think and destroying questions. It’s the death to critical thinking (because any critical thought applied to ANY religion shows how wrong religion is).

    You then go on to introduce a couple of anecdotes to support your case – none of which were convincing.

    The science behind global climate change is overwhelming – whether it’s man or nature is not so certain, but climate change is absolutely real and ~is~ one of the greatest threats to mankind (religion, or course being another).

    From the original post: “…science teachers refuse to acknowledge that a controversy between evolution and Intelligent Design even exists.”

    Because there is no “controversy” except in the hearts and minds of ignorant theists! Should we teach the controversy between alchemy and chemistry too? Why not – it’s not like we only have a certain number of minutes with which to teach a course (wasting it on alchemy, ID, astrology etc. would obviously leave little time to teach the real science.)

  2. Joe,
    Actually, there is a controversy. But, anyone who admits it gets booted by the educrats who run America’s colleges and universities. Take the recent case of Martin Gaskell, a highly qualified astrophysicist who won $125,000 from the Univ. of KY for religious discrimination. A wealth of email evidence shows Gaskell was disqualified simply for expressing doubts about Darwinism and admitting that evolution provides no explanation for the ultimate origin of life. Read more:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/17/martin-gaskell-former-uni_n_798108.html

    On the topic of religion destroying questions… The church and family I grew up in welcomed questions. I naturally went through a period of doubting my faith. And, since the resurrection serves as the lynchpin of Christianity, that’s where I focused my research. Have you ever studied the evidence for the resurrection? What you find may surprise you.

  3. Gaskell was awarded $125,000 to drop the suit and go away. The university did not admit to ANY wrong doing. I see nothing in this example that would point to anything other than just another case of a christian crying persecution because the world doesn’t take his beliefs seriously.

    I admire UK – they didn’t want to be a laughing stock and took the means necessary to stop that from happening.

    Julie wrote: “Have you ever studied the evidence for the resurrection? What you find may surprise you.”

    Um… I don’t think evidence quite means what you think it does. There is no evidence of the resurrection other than hearsay and stories cobbled together long after the supposed event.

  4. Joe,
    I’m actually writing a post on this right now. But, here’s an excerpt from an email Professor Thomas Troland, a member of the search committee, wrote to an ex-officio member of the committee. Apparently, the discrimination was so egregious, even he couldn’t stomach it.

    “It has become clear to me that there is virtually no way Gaskell will be offered the job despite his qualifications that stand far above those of any other applicant. Other reasons will be given for this choice when we meet Tuesday. In the end, however, the real reason why we will not offer him the job is because of his religious beliefs in matters that are unrelated to astronomy or to any of the duties specified for this position. (For example, the job does not involve outreach in biology.). . . If Martin were not so superbly qualified, so breathtakingly above the other applicants in background and experience, then our decision would be much simpler. We could easily choose another applicant, and we could content ourselves with the idea that Martin’s religious beliefs played little role in our decision. However, this is not the case. As it is, no objective observer could possibly believe that we excluded Martin on any basis other than religious. . . . “(p. 14)

    On the resurrection, it sounds like you’ve never researched it. But, if you’re open-minded enough to consider evidence, I dare you to read “The Case for the Resurrection,” by Lee Strobel. Lee is a former atheist-turned-Christian and the former award-winning legal editor of the Chicago Tribune. He also holds a degree from Yale Law School.

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