Teaching Skepticism

I don’t know if an adult can be taught to be a skeptic. Skepticism requires the ability to think critically.

As I wrote a few days ago, there’s a lack of critical thinking in society today. I haven’t lost all hope and I’ll get to that in a minute. Let me say why In my opinion it’s difficult, if not impossible, to turn a non-skeptic adult into a critically thinking adult.

The first reason, as I mentioned in the other post, is that it’s not part of the primary through high school education curriculum. I have 2 family members that are university professors and one of the gripes they have about their students are their complete lack of ability to think critically.

So, no skills from youth. What else? By the time they reach young adulthood, the late teens through early twenties young people have already been indoctrinated into belief systems whether religious, ideological, or even scientific (e.g. CAM). So now that they have zero skills in logical thinking to begin with and have no ability to detect nonsense, how can that young person, ever become a skeptic?

They can’t. Sure, they can learn of evidence and possibly change their mind on some subject but it really depends on the level of brainwashing they’ve had from childhood. Think young earth creationists.

The hope I was referring to earlier is in this generation of children. It’s up to us though. We can’t depend upon the school system. For adults, it’s better information. We are a world that is guided a lot by what we see on television and on the Internet. Google University anyone? We need to work to see that nonsense on television and the net is thoroughly debunked – and publically. There are some organizations and even individuals that do some of this work now.

More of us need to be involved.

2 thoughts on “Teaching Skepticism

  1. I think we did a stand-alone course offered in at least high school on critical thinking. We rely too much on the assumption that critical thinking and skepticism will be absorbed by students through the content lessons presented by science teachers. My experience is that this indirect method of imparting critical thinking skills misses the mark more often that it finds it. Critical thinking and skepticism need to be taught directly to students.

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