I almost couldn’t believe this article when I read it. From (you guessed it) The New York Times:
For an academic, Michael Caulfield has an odd request: Stop overthinking what you see online.
“We’re taught that, in order to protect ourselves from bad information, we need to deeply engage with the stuff that washes up in front of us,” Mr. Caulfield told me recently. He suggested that the dominant mode of media literacy (if kids get taught any at all) is that “you’ll get imperfect information and then use reasoning to fix that somehow. But in reality, that strategy can completely backfire.”
So what does he want us to do instead?
Influenced by the research of Sam Wineburg, a professor at Stanford, and Sarah McGrew, an assistant professor at the University of Maryland, Mr. Caulfield argued that the best way to learn about a source of information is to leave it and look elsewhere, a concept called lateral reading.
So what does this mean? He uses the example of investigating claims by anti-vaxxer Robert Kennedy…
He probed deeper into the method to find better coverage by copying the main claim in Mr. Kennedy’s post and pasting that into a Google search. The first two results came from Agence France-Presse’s fact-check website and the National Institutes of Health. His quick searches showed a pattern: Mr. Kennedy’s claims were outside the consensus — a sign they were motivated by something other than science.
In other words, DON’T CRITICALLY THINK! Simply go to the nearest establishment consensus, and sign up with that; no thinking required.
I think in previous years progressives might have strenuously argued against believing what you’re told simply because that’s what you’re told, which is why I titled this as about “Progressives in 2021.” Progressivism, liberalism, leftism, whatever you want to call it, has changed pretty radically over the past few years. Wokeism being the biggest change, which made race and identity primary over every other societal aspect.
Instead of critical thinking, the author recommends an alternative, SIFT:
- Investigate the source.
- Find better coverage.
- Trace claims, quotes and media to the original context.
That’s fine as far as it goes, but notice in the article, in the author didn’t do any of that. They simply went to number three, “find better coverage.” In other words, simply accept the word of the mainstream sites. In this case Agence France-Presse and the NIH. I’m sure The New York Times will always work as a substitute.
Progressives have jumped off the critical thinking train and on to the accept establishment sources train because they are the establishment. That’s actually been true for a while but I’m not sure your average progressive understood that until the Trump era. As we saw the term “fake news” come into flower and went from 2016: The election is stolen-fact! to 2020: The election is stolen…deplatform anyone saying that!
I think we’re all clear where the establishment is now.
And we’re clear that they don’t want any critical thinking going on around here. The establishment will do your thinking for you.