What’s Missing From Education? Critical Thinking

Opinion

There is too little emphasis on teaching critical thinking skills in schools. Many adults have little understanding of important science and technology issues, which leaves them open to poor decision making on matters that will affect both their families as well as society in general.

A good example would be a failure to understand and appreciate the tremendous advancement in human health as a result of vaccines. These days, unfortunately, misinformation abounds on the Internet, and many parents don’t have the critical thinking skills to distinguish anecdotes and rumors from factual information. As a result, they don’t have their children vaccinated, and this has led to a large increase in whooping cough, mumps, and measles cases. Many adults get their scientific information from unreliable sources. Recent studies have shown that even “medical” based shows on television, such as Dr. Oz and The Doctors, are filled with incorrect information and should more properly be thought of purely as “entertainment.” While science and technology will not solve all of our problems, children need to be taught how they can recognize when data does not support an idea, and to be open to changing their minds as new information becomes available.

[Editor’s note: To tap the wisdom of our distinguished group of Xconomists, we asked a few of them to answer this question heading into 2015: “If you could change one thing in education, what would it be?” You can see other questions and answers here.]

Stewart Lyman is Owner and Manager of Lyman BioPharma Consulting LLC in Seattle. He provides strategic advice to clients on their research programs, collaboration management issues, as well as preclinical data reviews. Follow @

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