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Making Our Way Forward

Critical thinking is needed throughout life, not just in science

We define scientific literacy too narrowly: the tools of science are applicable to everything from economics to terrorism

Mod Thinker

From New Scientist, December 9, 2015

HERE’S a game to play next time you catch the news headlines. Count how many would dissolve away or be markedly different if the people writing them had evaluated the evidence more critically. Your count will probably be alarmingly high.

We have a long tradition of allowing civic affairs to be settled by persuasive rhetoric. That is inadequate for our modern society. Science and technology shape our world and, as a society, we need to make well-reasoned and scientifically literate choices about everything from genetic engineering to geoengineering.

“Using rhetoric to settle civic affairs is inadequate for running our modern society”

But many of the tools used to make science-heavy decisions are also needed to properly evaluate a much broader range of subjects: in particular, critical thinking and numerical analysis. A basic grasp of statistics and probability, for instance, is key to judging the risk from terrorism, say, or how to invest your money (see “How to outsmart your irrational brain“).

But the desired combination of scientific literacy and critical thinking remains rare in public discourse . . .

Read full article in the New Scientist leader Critical Thinking is Needed Throughout Life, Not Just in Science from issue 3051 published 12/12/2015


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