Critical thinking is important in critical times

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In the era of fake news and “alternative facts”, society is quick to assume whatever they hear and see first is always correct.
It may seem that fake news is everywhere and that’s probably because it is.
If you log on to Twitter or any social media platform, you’ll probably see fake news shared more than actual news.
In 2016, the Pew Research Center conducted a study that found after the 2016 election found 64 percent of adults believe fake news stories cause a great deal of confusion and 23 percent said they had shared fabricated political stories themselves – sometimes by mistake and sometimes intentionally.
In 2018, critical thinking skills matter more than ever.
In the fake news era it is important as news consumers that we are able to distinguish between what is truth and what propagandists want you to believe is truth.
Some people only assume fake news comes from ‘bot accounts’ but the reality is most falsified information comes from verified accounts run by actual people. The problem with this is people also tend to have their own bias when searching and sharing information.
“A 2016 study that analyzed 376 million Facebook users’ interactions with over 900 news outlets found that people tend to seek information that aligns with their views,” according to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
Having a bias when coming across information doesn’t benefit anyone.
In order to become a critical thinking generation, society needs to learn what critical thinking is.
Critical thinking isn’t reading one view and opinion about a topic, it’s reading and processing multiple perspectives and concluding your own.
Fact-checking information that you read and post is also important when formulating your views.
People who commonly share fake news don’t fact check their information. Then they share it on what looks like a reliable website or platform and audiences are quick to assume it comes from a reliable source.
We have become accustomed to finding easy answers online and that paired with humans being irrational and emotional leads to a submissive thought process.
The need for a critical-thinking generation is now.
Previous generations didn’t have as many fake news sources as we face today, so their techniques to find reliable sources are out of date. Now, because anyone has access to create a website and publish information, society needs to be informed of what is considered to be a reliable source in this technological age.
This is why people need to retrain their brains to not just accept the first source in their Google search as their primary source Additionally, someone with millions of followers can’t always be taken for a reliable source.
While some may be resistant to retrain their brains and learn critical thinking techniques, we need to impart these skills into younger generations because they are the face of the future.
Without funds and political will, there is no way to integrate these techniques and lessons into the younger generation’s academic curriculum. They need to be taught properly in order to become skeptical and not cynical news consumers, how to face their own bias and how to take initiative to open their minds to other perspectives.
The only way to see these changes in our generation is to call for and demand change.
We need to put an end to the fake news era.

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