April 2, 2011

The Lost Art of Critical Thinking in a Google Age

This isn’t real­ly relat­ed to gam­ing, not direct­ly any­way but I pride myself in think­ing that your gamers have a high­er then nor­mal intel­li­gence.  That being said please read on. 
This came upon me the oth­er day when I won­dered how I got all of my infor­ma­tion for a paper I was writ­ing. How did I come to my con­clu­sions, how did I find the infor­ma­tion, how did I decide how to for­mat it, etc? What defined my entire paper?
 Before the advent of the mod­ern search engine any­thing that you want­ed to learn about you either had to ask some­one, watch the local news and come to your own con­clu­sions or go read an ency­clo­pe­dia or book on the top­ic and then think about the infor­ma­tion which you had just injest­ed. With my most recent work ALL of the infor­ma­tion that I acquired for my “Mas­ters Lev­el” paper was from Google. Google this Google that is the response to almost any ques­tion you present some­one that they don’t have the answer to. In fact when I start­ed my new job one of the first things they told you was “Learn 2 Google”
 One of my grade school books had a sec­tion in it called “Crit­i­cal Think­ing” it would ask you to rea­son and explain some sit­u­a­tion you had read in the text. At the time I thought it was the stu­pid­est thing but now that I am old­er I com­plete­ly under­stand what it was try­ing to teach. It wasn’t just ask­ing you to regur­gi­tate the sit­u­a­tion as explained in the book but it want­ed you to look at the sit­u­a­tion, ana­lyze it and then for­mu­late your OWN opin­ion. Not just look up some­one else’s.
 I think this is mild­ly dis­turb­ing is how many of us can’t form opin­ions off of infor­ma­tion we already have. How much base knowl­edge can you acquire from the world around you with­out hav­ing to use some­one else’s already formed opin­ion? I’ve seen this dilem­ma ever appar­ent in the younger gen­er­a­tion that pro­claim a belief but yet you ask them why they have these beliefs they have no idea and then they find them­selves googling that infor­ma­tion to find out why and what they believe.
 I’m not say­ing that Googling some­thing that you don’t know is inher­ent­ly bad but I think at the same time it helps to for­mu­late your own opin­ions instead of just find­ing some­one elses and tak­ing them as your own.


  1. zero_19 - April 3, 2011 7:56 am

    I agree, this abil­i­ty is sad­ly lost on more than just our gen­er­a­tion.
    I think the worst part is, some peo­ple have lost the abil­i­ty to think crit­i­cal­ly and also can’t use google.…

  2. thsoundman - April 3, 2011 11:20 am

    I think it’s sad­ly appar­ent in the Chris­t­ian realm which I reside. There are so many peo­ple who pro­fess the Chris­t­ian faith yet when they are asked why they believe what they believe they have no idea. They just regur­gi­tate what they heard from some­one else. They don’t real­ly have any idea as to why they believe what they believe or how peo­ple came to believe what they believe. It’s like their almost mind­less drones.

  3. ScrotusKilmystr - April 4, 2011 1:23 am

    this is true the birth of the dig­i­tal age has meant the death of the library where we use to do most of our research which gave peo­ple a bet­ter basis to make an informed deci­sion ie crit­i­cal thoughts and deci­sions now we google a wiki and sim­ply re-gur­gi­tate some one else’s take on the infor­ma­tion we desire
    I think the movie Idioc­ra­cy is slow­ly becom­ing a real­i­ty now.….

  4. Adam - April 4, 2011 4:58 pm

    I’m glad you pridge your­self, most peo­ple aren’t able to pridge them­selves at all, and when they get caught pridg­ing them­selves, it’s often quite embar­rass­ing.

  5. CharcoalCoyote - April 6, 2011 8:30 am

    I don’t total­ly blame the inter­net, although it has def­i­nite­ly changed the way we think. We’ve been regur­gi­tat­ing the same crap we’ve “learned” even before the inter­net was preva­lent. I blame the school sys­tems in Amer­i­ca. The his­to­ry class­es are com­posed almost entire­ly of mul­ti­ple choice tests, so the view­point we get is that of the writer of the his­to­ry book. I got in a num­ber of enor­mous argu­ments with my teacher in my civics and eco­nom­ics class, cit­ing var­i­ous works out­side the school text­book. We’re teach­ing the kids what to think, not how to think. I have an entire vol­ume I could write on “things I think we should do to the school sys­tem”, but I’d have to sit down and real­ly think on it.

  6. zero_19 - April 6, 2011 2:01 pm

    CC.…you are very right that our schools are a com­plete fail­ure. All the stan­dard­ized test­ing does not prove intel­li­gence, it proves only that those that score well can regur­gi­tate infor­ma­tion on com­mand.
    Are they inher­ent­ly smarter? Maybe, but does that mean they can actu­al­ly think? Not necce­sar­i­ly.
    The abil­i­ty to think was lost the day that “stan­dard­ized tests” were adopt­ed.

  7. thsoundman - April 6, 2011 8:06 pm

    Stan­dard­ized test­ing does not prove intel­li­gent. Yes it does show that you do know how to mem­o­rize and mem­o­riza­tion is impor­tant and know­ing the “facts” is impor­tant as well. But the most impor­tant part of school which is sad­ly the most over­looked is how you under­stand the mat­erail. I think all test­ing should be essay. It should be essay because it tru­ly shows that you under­stand a sub­ject. In school i failed mul­ti­ple choice tests con­stant­ly but all tests that had open end­ed ques­tions that actu­al­ly required intel­li­gent answers I passed with fly­ing col­ors. One class i took was 80% essay and I passed with an easy A while many of the oth­er “A” stu­dents were fail­ing because they could­n’t get the eassy ques­tions. Just goes to prove under­stand the mate­r­i­al is the way to go not just mem­o­riz­ing it.

  8. CharcoalCoyote - April 7, 2011 8:32 am

    I mean, I’m an expert at mem­o­riza­tion and regur­gi­ta­tion. I’m also real­ly good at writ­ing essays. And I’m pret­ty good at using back­ground knowl­edge (say, in math­e­mat­ics) to fig­ure out a new prob­lem. What real­ly burns me the hell up is when teach­ers that are entire­ly incom­pe­tent are teach­ing high­er lev­el cours­es. If there’s some­thing I don’t under­stand, and I need to get this for my hon­ors cred­it, I need help. If I can’t get it from my teacher, where else do I get it in this ghet­to ass town?

  9. ScrotusKilmystr - April 9, 2011 2:27 pm

    I won’t deny that there are good resources of infor­ma­tion on the inter­net it just seems that the most pop­u­lar ones have a sort of “Tabloid Val­ue” and should­n’t real­ly be held as gospel most sites get hits just because the hap­pen to pay a search engine to make sure the show at the top of a query.…
    I do agree our edu­ca­tion sys­tem is sev­er­ly lack­ing I think thats why I nev­er could grasp Cal­cu­lus in col­lege beca­sue My proff nev­er would explain WHY a for­mu­la had a con­stant in it and what made it con­stant.… If I under­stand the why then I get how to do the how.…


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