Amid an ever-increasing number of media outlets and social media platforms, the proliferation of misinformation makes evaluating information sources’ objectivity and reliability challenging. “Critical Thinking Skills in the Age of Misinformation,” a webinar held on September 14, brought this question to the forefront in a dialogue among the field’s experts.
Panelists Tom Chatfield, an author and tech philosopher, and Eric Addae-Kyeremeh, a professor at the Open University, joined moderator Paulina Polyakova to discuss the dangers of misinformation, reliable sources and how to hone and pass on critical thinking skills to reliably evaluate and utilize information.
Chatfield discussed how misinformation capitalizes on short-term news cycles and how to circumvent it by turning to more reliable sources, including books and peer-reviewed journals.
“Almost all of the misinformation that is influential to some degree works around rapid emotive decision-making and trends,” he said. “Do plenty of slow reading. If all of your reading or browsing time is with things that are operating on a timescale of minutes or days — daily newspapers or trending Twitter feeds — you’ve got a real problem because you’re all noise and no signal.”
Addae-Kyeremeh discussed how to impart critical thinking skills to students, emphasizing the importance of academic prudence and critical analysis.
“To teach critical thinking well, one must realize they must lead by example and thinking critically as well,” he said. “It also involves intellectual courage, which is more or less being willing to be challenged in terms of your own beliefs.”
This hour-long webinar was sponsored by SAGE Publishing, the parent of Social Science Space.
Tom Chatfield is an author and tech philosopher. His books include How to Think (SAGE Publishing, 2021), How to Thrive in the Digital Age (Pan Macmillan, 2012) and Live This Book! (Penguin, 2015). Additionally, he has partnered with SAGE to develop textbooks and online courses focused on critical thinking.
Eric Addae-Kyeremeh is the head of School in the School of Education, Childhood, Youth and Sport at the Open University. His research has been featured in the journal Management in Education and the book Professional Learning Communities and Teacher Enquiry.