Intellectual Poverty II - Lack of Philosophical Training
A hallmark shared by both universities and democracy is critical thinking. One of the prerequisites for critical thinking is schooling in philosophy and logic.
In the West since the 1950s, we have been focusing on getting as many as possible to have a good education and have the opportunity to attend university. This has been the motor for fantastic economic and technological development
However, we have also lacked a focus on elementary schooling in critical thinking. Philosophy and logic are seen as special areas for a small group of nerds and not as fundamental prerequisites for every citizen and researcher.
This means that we are easily fooled by lies and arguments that lack coherence. This problem becomes greater with the development of more media where everyone has the opportunity to express themselves. Back when it cost a lot of money to reach a large audience, and books and newspapers were not published without an editorial assessment of the quality, there was a certain guarantee of the merit of the content in the media.
If everyone is to have access to express themselves freely, and if all these opinions are not to undermine democracy and reasoned debate with stuff and nonsense, then it is imperative that we all learn to see through false and/or incoherent arguments.
The lack of skills in critical thinking is a particular threat to democracy if, at the same time, an atmosphere is whipped up where politics is based more on emotion than on facts. Most acts of genocide and totalitarian political and religious movements could probably have been stopped if we were all better at thinking critically and closely examined various allegations to see whether they actually have any logical coherence, because they rarely do.
Next chapter: Intellectual Poverty III - Innovation