A few friends of mine are battling about politics as always and I have been reading the exchange between them (gotta love the reply all button) and I thought this hit the mark, and share with you all and see what you think.

Fox News is not the problem, merely a symptom of the much deeper issue of the failure of our society to impart intelligent and critical thinking skills to the populace. Simply put, Fox News is what happens when a societies education model has failed.

The problem is people do not think critically for themselves so they follow their emotions in my opinion. Individuals then fall back to making their judgment based on emotions and look to who is more passionate or who puts an argument in simple terms they, the citizen, can understand.

For now Fox News presents a passionate and simple argument. The is exactly what a voter who can not critically think for themselves is looking for.

Has our education model really failed?

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I would agree, Adriana. Fox 'News' is both a symptom of a wider problem and contributing to the problem itself.

I live in Ireland and have only recently started to catch Fox news, mainly on utube or late night summaries on satellite TV. I have watched CNN and BBC World News for a long time. I would treat Fox news as a comedy channel except, as Donne pointed out above, it lies to its audience.

It should be seen as an embarrassment to journalism and the antithesis of news reporting. It is the definition of “dumbed down” television. It is so dumb because of the religious stance of its staff. Just report the news and keep religious opinions off the air.

Fox News is not a problem, it is a symptom, much like open cold sores are a symptom of herpes.
I've identified at least three symptoms here: O'Reilly is a canker sore, Beck is a genital wart, and Limbaugh is an advanced case of anal herpes.
It's both, and neither.  There are other factors at work in this slow train wreck we call American democracy.  One problem is our un-earned economic success, making us think we are more talented than we are.   Our recent ancestors lucked into a continent with vast resources and natives with primitive weapons and no immunity to our germs.   If you guys haven't read "Guns, Germs, and Steel", you should.  Or watch the documentary version.  The economic supremacy of the U.S. is just a confluence of random events.  But, of course, most Americans think it is a sign of their superiority.

"Fox News is not the problem, merely a symptom of the much deeper issue of the failure of our society to impart intelligent and critical thinking skills to the populace. Simply put, Fox News is what happens when a societies education model has failed."


I don't think society has a responsibility to impart CRITICAL thinking skills to the populace. Where did you get that idea from? If this is something that was supposed to occur during our high school education your dreaming. We have an enormity of functionally illiterate graduates running around. Plus a drop out rate approaching 50%. 


What this society needs instead of critical thinking skills is a drop of COMMON SENSE. I'll take an ounce of good ole common sense over a bucket full of critical thinking skills.


I hardly watch the news anymore, maybe the PBS Newhour from time to time, as they ALL have either a Liberal or Conservative agenda. Like Joe Friday said "Just the facts Ma'am."  A true independent such as myself grows weary of the daily rhetoric eschewed by the likes of NBC and FOX.

"Common sense" may be common but it is not particularly sensible, especially when it comes to causality, statistics, coincidence, or any number of other things that our psychology is ill-suited for without a supporting framework.

I stated that common sense is not that common these days. As to causality, statistics, etc. requiring a supporting framework I get the impression that you think the common joe would have an inclination for such subjects. In the real world these are not concerns for your typical taxpayer.

I have been a member of this forum for a few weeks now. What seems to be a recurring issue is one of advanced education. Only a small segment of our society seeks higher education. I cannot fault the guy who leaves high school  and becomes a mechanic at the local repair shop. He is certainly not interested in statistical theory or causality. But he could be cracker jack smart and loaded with common sense. His interest in critical thinking skills are not a high priority or need be. 

Education is a common theme because one of the ongoing problems with our society is the attitude that education is a bad thing and that somehow ignorance and 'going with your gut' is a virtue.

As for whether or not the 'common joe' has any use for critical thinking skills or a basic understanding of statistics, I'd say that while the average person might not need a professorial level of expertise, a firm grasp on the essentials can be very valuable to everyone.

For example, critical thinking skills help a person discern a valid argument from a fallacious one. This helps protect the critical thinker from scams, cons, and frauds. Likewise, a basic knowledge of statistics and odds helps the person determine if a favorable outcome is likely or not. A perfect example of this is playing the lottery. There are people who spend hundreds of dollars a month on lottery tickets when a basic understanding of the statistical odds would show that they are wasting their money.

I wouldn't expect everyone to have even a bachelor's degree understanding of statistics, etc. But a basic high school grounding in the subject would be of benefit to everyone.

I don't think society has a responsibility to impart CRITICAL thinking skills to the populace.

I've been thinking of starting a discussion about what society can actually do to impart critical thinking skills to the populace. I disagree that common sense by itself is a good prescription, because it (almost by definition) varies depending on the culture. The phrase is usually meant as "what everyone should know", which in itself isn't really saying much. It's more of a description than a prescription.

In fact, I think that scientific, skeptical, and critical thinking often goes against common sense, or at least it does not come naturally to human beings. Reading, writing, math, science (etc.), are not learned from natural experiences, but must be taught from structured curriculum. Same is true for critical thinking, although most of the Critical Thinking "taught" at school just comes along with the other courses taught, not in itself as a separate class.

So yeah, I'm even saying here that something like Critical Consumption of Media should be a requirement in High School. Especially in light of the growing pervasiveness of internet media.

(This does deserve it's own, separate discussion. Hope I have time to first research TA for what's already been discussed about it.)


I suppose there are instances where these so-called critical thinking skills might be employed. Common sense is NOT dictated by culture. As you go through life you are constantly learning things, whether it be in a formal or informal environment. You have to step back and look at the situation to get a grasp of what is going on. Then based on what you see you make a decision as to the next course of action. You put your brain in gear and work your way through what your dealing with. Some people just cannot do it. They get perplexed, confused, or whatever and give up.

Common sense is not "what everyone should know" but rather what someone can be reasonably expected to figure out (w/o having taken a Critical Thinking Skills class).  :^ )



I  see what you're saying, and I won't argue against common sense. So... is there a way we can teach it?

After I've thought about it, the critical thinking skills I think I have actually feel like common sense, now. Dave G's examples of learning how to avoid scams, cons, fraud, and lottery/gambling losses seem like they should become common sense, if we can teach it.



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