I am very interested in critical thinking in American life. In particular, I’m interested in:
- how critical thinking is used to solve complex business, social, and environmental problems
- how critical thinking informs our political discourse
- how the lack of critical thinking thwarts our collective progress toward maximizing human well-being
- and how bad ideas lead to harmful behaviors
Given how vital critical thinking is to our collective futures, I’m especially interested in how our kids are being taught critical thinking skills.
So it was with no small amount of alarm that I discovered a post by Hemant Mehta at Patheos.com about a gentleman by the name of Eric Hovind. Apparently Eric was granted the opportunity to speak to students at Troup County Comprehensive High School, a public school in Lagrange, Georgia, on the subject of critical thinking. Now, I don’t know Eric personally and from all accounts, he seems a decent and dedicated fellow, but he is an unapologetic young earth creationist. In fact, spreading young earth creationist propaganda is essentially his full time job. Eric is the President and Founder of Creation Today.
So while I’m not certain of the content of Mr. Hovind’s presentation to the students at Troup County High, I do know that maintaining a belief that the earth is several thousand years old in the face of overwhelming demonstrable scientific evidence that the earth is ~4.5 billion years old, is the antithesis of critical thinking. And yet, critical thinking was the subject matter being discussed.
I am a bit worried about the ability of someone who believes that the earth was created at around the same time that the ancient Sumerians were inventing the game of checkers, to relay to the young, impressionable minds of the Troup County students, the importance of reason and evidence in evaluating truth claims.
So I’m putting my money where my mouth is.
As someone who has spent the last 15 years applying critical and analytical thinking sills to solve some of the most complex challenges in business, defense, and public health, and as someone writing a book on critical thinking, I reached out to principal Chip Medders to offer my own talk. I sent Mr. Medders an email on Friday requesting the opportunity to speak to the same students who heard Eric, so I’m hopeful my request will land on receptive ears.
I’ll be sure to provide updates.