Critical thinking can and should be applied outside the academic arena.
Professor Dehlia Wallis, who teaches PSYC 2301, General Psychology-Honors, at this campus, has students review common misconceptions about psychology to encourage critical thinking through research.
For example, take the myth that says, “You’re only using 10 percent of your brain.” The idea was the basis for the movie “Lucy” not too long ago.
It is easy to hear, see or read something that sounds plausible and run with it because research can be tedious, but what is college for if not to push erroneous ideas out of the way?
That is why instructors, no matter the field, should have students research common misconceptions relating to their respective subjects.
The simple matter of encouraging students to research goes a long way because it trains them to weigh information from questionable sources. A stronger sense of skepticism built at school can have a snowball effect on other areas of life because critical thinking goes beyond the academic.
Just look at the political arena. People shout opinions — true or false — paint them as facts and those not too keen on research simply accept them.
Then the fight over who is right begins, searching for “facts” that fit one’s narrative.
Some people stick to their comfortable bubbles and reject information that challenges preconceptions.
The internet can be a source of in-depth, corroborated information, but at the same time, is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to misinformation.
Viral posts online, often sharing fake information, become more and more prominent with the passage of time.
At one point or another, it may be debunked, but sometimes we are not the wiser because the correction never spreads as fast or far as the original story did.
To practice skepticism is not just about critical thinking. It helps people become conscious about truth, benefitting all our communication and interaction, particularly in a time filled with division in ideologies.
A healthy sense of skepticism can help diminish political (and other types of) tribalism in the country.
Building on that skepticism and critical thinking starts small, and the academic environment is the perfect arena to do so.