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Numeracy

It’s not that they couldn’t do the math, it’s just that they had no idea what math to do!

Numeracy is an essential 21st Century educational outcome, demonstrated in all fields in multiple ways.

To perform well in their work lives:

  • Business school grads must be able to follow financial arguments,
  • Health science grads must anticipate the effects of cumulative therapies,
  • Engineering grads must figure out the weight and stress tolerances of their designs
  • Social science grads must interpret survey data accurately
  • Liberal arts grads must evaluate the significance of quantitative information.

Anecdotes are not always representative of our society. Ideas are not true just because they are widely believed.  We know these things because of numeracy.

Numeracy is the application of critical thinking to quantitative information. 

  • People with strong numeracy skills can describe how quantitative information is represented textually, verbally, and visually in graphs, charts, tables and diagrams. They can put the numbers together correctly to draw inferences that are not only accurate, but truthful.
  • Strength in quantitative reasoning is required for personal, academic, workplace and professional success.

Whether your students are graduate, baccalaureate, associate, or K-12, to assess numeracy and critical thinking using a single assessment instrument , call us today.

Teacher

It is not a new idea that educators must personally be strong thinkers to be effective teachers.

The best teachers are engaged in a life-long effort to improve their own thinking skills and mindset attributes, constantly attentive to how well they are recognizing and analyzing problems, how well they have resolved them, and where they may be unknowingly and habitually committing common reasoning errors.

Here are just a few of the way critical thinking is applied every day in the educational workplace:

  • identifying emergent concerns
  • evolving long term goals & plans
  • communicating effectively with colleagues
  • analyzing & explaining risks
  • implementing & evaluating initiatives
  • allocating resources
  • anticipating & preventing errors
  • identifying & assessing opportunities
  • using information systems
  • analyzing & resolving student issues
  • explaining policy & procedures
  • designing & evaluating departmental reports

The list goes on almost indefinitely, particularly in high-stakes workplace settings that require professionals to engage in unexpected problems and make time sensitive judgments. Poor judgments can lead to irreparable damage and even cost lives.  

There are few teachers who would fail to embrace critical thinking as an important learning outcome for their students. This is true because teachers daily experience the importance of using their critical thinking to achieve their own professionals and life goals. INSIGHT Educator Professional  is an assessment tool designed for use by program directors and managers to determine the strength of critical thinking skills and mindset in their employees or trainees.

INSIGHT Educator Professional is a full-service product. Assessments can be completed from a mobile device or computer. Talk with our staff about strategies for optimizing the value of one of our critical thinking assessments in your initiative to strengthen critical thinking.  

For more Resources about the importance of critical thinking in the workplace and in the classroom

Trash Can of unreliable information- propaganda, boasts, bias, propaganca & baseless opinion

Truth-seeking is vital.

We need our health care providers to be truth-seekers, following our changing health status to be sure therapies are really working, and changing our treatment plans when they don’t deliver the benefits they promise. We need our teachers to be truth-seekers so that they can provide the most up to date information and training. We need our leaders to be truth-seeking so that they will study significant problems thoroughly, and act to resolve them in a timely way.

Which new ideas are true?

The number of new ideas a person hears in a single day is rapidly increasing. The upside is that we can learn more! The downside is determining which of these ideas can be trusted to be reliable information versus baseless opinion or propaganda.

Truth-seekers would prefer to know the most up to date knowledge in any given situation, even if that knowledge conflicts with their current point of view. Notice that we are using the word “truth” to mean ideas that have been evaluated in light of all available evidence. We are not referring to ideas that are proposed or believed, those ideas we would call “beliefs” or “opinions.” When the stakes are high, decisions need to be based on ideas that have been evaluated as true based on available evidence.

As a truth-seeker, you have definitely had the experience of changing your mind about some important issue when you discovered new relevant information. Truth-seekers courageously follow reasons and evidence where-ever they lead. When necessary, they reformulate their point of view, incorporating their new knowledge. They see this behavior as a strength. Refusing to change their mind, stubbornly holding on to some prior belief, would not be honorable. As a truth-seeker, you know that this can be difficult. It means you might find yourself in conflict with people who prefer beliefs that offer them some personal benefit. Nobody said honesty comes easily.

Truth-seeking is a habit of mind. New ideas and bold proclamations are not automatically true. They are ideas and proclamations that need to be evaluated in light of all available evidence. Humans have a long history of collaborating together to develop new knowledge. Truth-seekers know that other truth-seekers will have their backs.  

Fact-based wishful thinking never gets the job done.  Strong critical thinkers decide what to believe and what to do using the best knowledge they can acquire by being vigilant and brave truth-seekers.   

  • Strong critical thinkers are truth-seeking, open-minded, analytical, systematic, confident in reasoning, inquisitive and  judicious

These seven key mindset attributes are measurable. The  California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory (CCTDI) reports on strengths and weaknesses in these thinking habits of mind. 

Contact us to learn more about the ways many educational and professional programs use Insight Assessment validated research-based test instruments to assess and develop critical thinking skills and mindset attributes.

 

Rubik's Cube

We expect more from our employees today.

They must be able to think on their feet, problem-solve, evaluate information professionally and effectively. Shouldn’t we give them the tools to deliver more?

Improving thinking and reasoning skills can easily be incorporated into your business training plan with the INSIGHT Development Program.  

Strong employee critical thinking skills and mindset are the basis for quality decision-making and problem-solving.  That’s why growing businesses commit to making sure employees develop and improve the reasoning skills they need to keep up with the competition in this increasingly complex work world. 

  • If you’re already training critical thinking, great! But how do you know your training program is effective? Is it improving your operations?  Talk to us about our proven business thinking assessments so that you can objectively measure progress. If your program isn’t changing the quality of decision making, you need a new program.

Fortunately improving employee thinking doesn’t have to be hard.  It can in fact be easy.

Skills development can be accomplished with INSIGHT Development Program’s online self-paced training modules focusing on  15 core thinking skills and personal attributes recognized as core components of decision-making.

Insight Development Program offers a suite of high quality, proven training modules designed to improve thinking in teams and in individuals.

INSIGHT Development Program includes a measurement instrument providing data on individual and group thinking and reasoning capabilities. Objective metrics permit validation of the success of the training program as well as giving trainees an incentive to focus on self-improvement in skills valued by employers.

Participants are guided through practical steps to improve their critical thinking. Modules provide strategies to improve their ability to reason through problems to discover workable solutions.  As they progress through the modules, they see the value of improving their thinking skills and avoiding common reasoning errors.  The motivation to use critical thinking skills to make sound decisions is reinforced.

Employees with better thinking skills improve productivity and show more job satisfaction. Employee errors in judgment cost you money and opportunities.

  • Improved thinking results in fewer errors, better decision-making and better problem-solving.  Good thinking drives success and innovation.
  • Employees appreciate when employers provide positive opportunities to personally focus on self-improvement in practical skills and professional attributes.
  • Engaged employees are productive employees .The best way to motivate people to give their best effort at work is to demonstrate the personal and professional relevance of value of their skills.  Printable personal reports provide realistic analysis of their strengths and weaknesses in thinking and reasoning.   

Your company benefits when good analytical thinking is applied to problem solving and planning. 

INSIGHT Development Program provides comprehensive and effective solution to your needs while minimizing the burden on your systems.  Designed to be used as independent study by employees, INSIGHT Development can also be incorporated into existing training programs.

Contact us today to see the power of a cost-effective, user friendly proven training program to develop thinking skill in all your employees.

INSIGHT: Strong Thinking Team

Don't forget the most important part of onboarding. Success depends on more than knowledge about the company, policies and products. You need to make sure your new hires have the thinking skills to use that information. This is where Insight Assessment can help you.

New employees must understand the values and characteristics that are important to your company culture. Nothing is more important than making sure new employees have strong decision skills and thinking mindset characteristics.  Face it, the effectiveness of new hires depends on their ability be fast learners, motivated and willing to engage problems while assuming new responsibilities. They will need to be able to analyze problems, interpret and assess explanations, evaluate alternatives, anticipate outcomes, avoid risks and act on priorities. Strong thinkers make fewer mistakes, understand the importance of policies and drive innovation.

Employee Success depends on their thinking skills

Relevant training and development opportunities are important components of in onboarding.  If your goal is to strengthen the effectiveness of your employee team, your decision to improve thinking skills will be a vital investment in employee success. Our program pays for itself by reducing the time and cost of wrong hires and accelerates the effectiveness of a right hire.

INSIGHT Development Program delivers the most comprehensive, effective and well-established approach to strengthening employee decision-making and problem solving. Our clients use INSIGHT Development Program to build reasoning capabilities in new hires and current staff to achieve the goal of better thinking throughout their organization.

Emphasize expectations, build competency and confidence

  • Designed to be used as an independent training study by employees, INSIGHT Development Program can also be incorporated into existing new hire training programs.  Online, self-guided training modules are available 24/7 on a secure website. 
  • INSIGHT Development Program includes use of internationally respected assessments which provide comprehensive individual reports that can be used for individual professional development and HR programs.
  • As participants progress through the modules, they see the value of improving thinking skills and avoiding common reasoning errors. The motivation to use these critical thinking skills to make sound decisions in reinforced. As employees progress through the program, they gain confidence as they build their core skills and motivation.
  • An investment in effective onboarding training yields returns in improved employee engagement and retention. Providing such personally and professionally relevant INSIGHT Development Program thinking training demonstrates your company commitment to development growth and support opportunities for your employees.

Prioritize the most important skill employees need: strong thinking skills

After you’ve completed hiring process, success of that new hire depends on how you make sure they acquire and then apply necessary knowledge, skills and winning mindset to become effective team members.

Decision making impacts your bottom line every day.  Measure thinking to improve performance and productivity. Your investment in the training and assessment of thinking pays off in better decisions throughout your company.

Contact us to discuss integrating INSIGHT Development into your onboarding and HR programs.

Find the right employee development program

Where are you in the process of delivering an effective development program for your employees?

Companies research employee training programs for many reasons.  Companies implement a development program when it provides a comprehensive and effective solution to their needs while minimizing the burden on their systems.

Many companies are committed to improving the quality of employee decision-making and problem-solving. 

INSIGHT Development Program is a comprehensive self-study program focused on one of the most vital workplace skills: critical thinking.  It accomplishes two complementary goals; it provides a proven online training program to improve essential work skills and also provides access to performance metrics using industry leading assessment tools . This combination makes INSIGHT Development Program a uniquely valuable human resources tool.  

INSIGHT Development program can be implemented to supplement your current employee training programs or as an additional independent benefit to your staff at all levels. 

It is a solution to your need for effective training to improve the quality of thinking and objective metrics to meet your goals.

INSIGHT Development Program Modules and accompanying metrics are valuable for:

Process improvement :

  • Training:  Fewer mistakes are made when employees approach problems and decisions with the ability to analyze problems, evaluate options, anticipate consequences and apply numerical data.  Innovation increases when employees have the mindset to persist until they find solutions. Modules enable employees to build the skills and mindset attributes that that lead to product and systemic quality improvements
  • Metrics: used for quality improvement and continuous improvement programs

Team Development :

  • Training: Proactively build more rounded and productive teams with the focus on skills and motivation to think well together.  Team members use the modules to improve and exercise the application of key skills and mindsets
  • Metrics: Use assessments to identify strengths & weaknesses of teams, departments, or divisions so that systematic problem-solving solutions can be implemented in areas of operations where change is needed.

Hiring/placement/talent development:

  • Training:  Maximize training dollars by implementing this effective training program that targets the improvement of critical thinking skills that are valuable for all staff members. Build a work culture that values and rewards good thinking.
  • Metrics: Use for employee engagement programs, talent identification,onboarding, career development. Objectively match employee skills and talents to job responsibilities; validate that you are hiring promoting and retaining the  most effective people.

Corporate Commitment to provide individual development opportunities:

  • Training: Offers a self-directed capability for self-improvement by strengthening core skills and motivation. Builds confidence trainees thinking and reasoning. Demonstrates commitment to continuing skill development opportunities for employees.
  • Metrics:  Comprehensive individual reports detailing thinking strengths and weaknesses can be used to support individual professional development plans that target the thinking skills/attitudes that are identified as needing improvement.

Many companies realize that improving the quality of employee decision-making and problem-solving is vital to their continued success.   They realize that poor thinking can hurt their bottom line at every level every day.  Weakness in thinking skills leads to errors, missed opportunities, poor risk assessment, reduced program impact and subpar results. 

Whatever motivates your decision to implement an effective development program, INSIGHT Development Plan delivers comprehensive, cost effective solution.

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them-Albert Einstein

Let’s resolve to work for better thinking in 2018.

Amid the noise and clutter of the holidays, the confusion of international and domestic politics, the flash of new tech tools and toys, and the static of trivial tweets, nothing calms, focuses, sorts, stores, sheds, shields, and serves us better than good thinking.

It will take strong thinkers to navigate through the problems and opportunities facing us today and in the future. We give ourselves the best opportunity for success in 2018 when:

  • we can differentiate between unfounded opinions and well-reasoned points of view
  • we can explain our perspectives based on sound reasons and good evidence
  • we maintain a positive thinking mindset that prizes truth-seeking and fair-mindedness.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” — Albert Einstein

Strength in thinking skills and mindset is a global educational goal. Democracies flourish, professions serve, businesses excel and student achieve their career goals when people make well-reasoned, reflective and purposeful judgments about what to believe or what to do in all aspects of their lives. 

Join Insight Assessment , the worldwide leader in the measurement of reasoning skills and thinking mindset, in making 2018 the “Year for Better Thinking.”  Let’s all do whatever we can to encourage and to celebrate well-reasoned decision making and effective problem solving in education, business, and government, and in our personal and civic lives. 

Call out and praise good thinking. Don’t settle for myopic, biased or careless thinking. Listen carefully. Evaluate and understand the sources of information. Consciously think about the quality of your decision making. Cultivate positive habits of mind. Practice your skills of analysis, evaluation, inference, inductive and deductive reasoning. Be thoughtful.

Critical Thinking: What It Is and Why It Counts 

Follow our blog, Thinking INSIGHT to explore ways we can all develop and benefit from stronger thinking in the classroom and workplace.

Contact us to learn more about our thinking and reasoning assessment solutions .

INSIGHT Decision Making Requires Skills and Mindset

Business success depends on building a more diverse, more productive workforce.

Today HR departments need to be sensitive to unconscious biases to be sure that candidate selection is not skewed. The challenge is how. Standard screening processes have proven unreliable.

Musicians are auditioned behind a screen so that they will be judged purely by the quality of their music. It's not about who they are--it's about what they can do (the quality of their musicianship).

Obviously businesses can't audition candidates behind a screen, so objective ways to determine the potential of candidates must be based on more relevant metrics.

What could be more effective--and useful--than a "blind hiring" process that starts with an objective assessment of the cognitive skills and motivational attributes that predict professional success.

Metrics that focus on the strengths and weaknesses of individual candidates, not their resume or demographic data, are powerful tools for your decision-making.  

Incorporating INSIGHT Business Professional into your hiring process enables you to identify and target highly skilled individuals with the professional mindset and problem-solving skills to achieve company goals. INSIGHT is calibrated to assess and report on 15 thinking skills and attributes such as problem analysis, evaluation of options, anticipating risk, commitment, motivation, tolerance and focus that predict workplace success. Reports provide numerical scores and recommended performance analysis.

Businesses need objective actionable data delivered in a cost-effective way. 

True employee assessment doesn’t have to be hard. Easy online administration through our industry leading app based technology and results sent to your inbox within minutes will take the stress out of employee assessment. Anonymous results make decision making more objective.

It’s easy to get started. Contact us today to discuss how our INSIGHT assessments can give you the objective data you need to build a workforce focused on high quality decision making.

Critical thinking definition from the APA Delphi Expert Consensus

Yes, critical thinking can and should be taught.  (See our Resources section for teaching and learning tools)

The idea that somehow critical thinking is unteachable has been disproven by decades of research.  But there are always some who initially believe otherwise.  There is no question  that each of us is born with a greater or lesser natural capacity.  As with anything, some of us can sing better or swim further than others, but that does not mean that singing or swimming cannot be taught.  It only means that one person’s highest potential is different than another’s.

Those who claim that humans cannot develop their critical thinking skills and habits of mind because they are “either born with critical thinking or not” are wrong.  The objective data disconfirm that hypothesis.  In fact, there is ample research, going back decades and across multiple academic subjects and professional disciplines, documenting that critical thinking can be learned, taught, and measured.

Is there a formula for success?

  • Teaching FOR critical thinking is not the same as teaching ABOUT critical thinking. 
  • Teaching FOR critical thinking can be achieved at every educational level and with every academic or professional subject matter. 

The three things to be sure to do are:

  1. Consistently engage the learner’s critical thinking skills by asking questions that evoke analyses, interpretations, evaluations, explanations, and inferences AND following up by demanding thoughtful and fair-minded explanation of the reasons for those judgments. 
  2. Create and sustain an environment that fosters all the positive critical thinking habits of mind, truth-seeking, inquisitiveness, open-mindedness, maturity of judgment, etc.
  3. Practice thinking about thinking, that means being reflective about how and why each important conclusion was reached, each assumption was made, and each alternative was evaluated.

The academic subject matter or the set of problems and decisions that the professional field must grapple with become the topics to which individuals and teams apply their critical thinking.  The goal is always to enable each person to maximize their natural potential. The educator’s challenge is: “Given the raw material, how much can we achieve?”

Teaching FOR thinking is like coaching a championship

Consider, as an analogy, what it takes to succeed at the highest levels of competitive athletics.  Native strength, size, agility, and coordination are very important.  So are a knowledge of the game and thousands of hours practicing and playing the game competitively.  And so is good coaching that addresses not only the physical moves, but the mental preparation and the in-game tactics and adjustments, and too, the overall game-plan (strategy) that will best position the competitor to prevail against a given opponent. Think of tennis, for example.  Now ramp it up several notches because all these pieces are essential for success at the highest levels in team sports.  To become a championship team we need every athlete on the team to be applying native talents and their critical thinking (well-trained and practiced so it can be done in real time) to the specific problems and decisions that must be made within the context of that sporting competition.  

What about critical thinking in health care, business, governmental leadership or military success? The same elements are essential (critical thinking, native intelligence, content knowledge, and experience with the problems and decisions that constitute that concerns at that level/ in that professional field.     

When we say that the data show that we can develop strengths in critical thinking in people, we are saying something akin to what a coach says when looking at a promising athlete and saying that it will be possible to coach the person, over time, into a champion.   To do this the coach (athletic or critical thinking) must work on the skills and the mindset dimensions, which go hand in hand.  But the process is not quick, nor easy.  It is a matter of exercising (not just talking about) the skills in multiple and progressively more challenging situations, and of the constant formation of the mind, inculcating and reinforcing mental disciplines including the discipline to think first, before reacting or relying on a decision heuristic unreflectively. 

Learn more

For more on critical thinking in educational settings download “ Talking Critical Thinking .” For a fuller explanation of the concept of critical thinking and its relationship to the science of human decision making, download “ Critical Thinking: What It Is and Why It Counts ”. 

Insight Assessment provides industry leading validated objective  critical thinking assessment solutions structured for educational and professional purposes. Contact us today to discuss your assessment goals.

Bulldog Artedelgatto

This is a guest post by Peter A Facione, Measured Reasons LLC.

Posing as a Midwestern housewife and using thousands of other fake accounts on Twitter and facebook, lying Russian meddlers reached 126 million Americans during the 2016 election. 

These days all of us need to defend ourselves against blizzards of false information.  We cannot permit our democracy to be buried under our own gullibility. After all, if we didn’t believe the fake news messages, we would not have re-tweeted them. Right?

So, step number one on the road to civic health is for all of us to acknowledge our problem: When we see something in the news that supports our point of view, we “like” it and, without taking sufficient precautions, we pass it along to our friends like a bad cold.

Our problem is double edged. We are drawn to agree with messages that support our point of view, and we prefer to shrug off information that disagrees with our point of view.  How easy it is now for us to sympathize with poor old Galileo. Remember when he said, “But friends and esteemed leaders, there is evidence showing that the Earth is not the center of the Universe.”  Which, of course, caused his friends to double over in laughter at his foolish denial of the “common sense” of their day; and which lead the powers that were to threaten, “Retract what you said or go to Jail.  …  Your choice.”     

Human nature has not changed much in the centuries since, at least not in our response to messages that contradict our current version of “common sense,” or that threaten to undercut the orthodoxy of the powers that be.  We do not like to be wrong!  We do not like it when people disagree with our point of view!  And we hate it when the facts get in the way of our ambitions. 

But none of us has the time or the money (except maybe the idle super rich) to check out every story we see in the media and every message that our friends retweet or post to us.  Life is complex, we are busy. What is a person to do?  

Apply the “Credibility Test”: If the source is not credible, it probably is fake news.

By using our natural critical thinking skills, every one of us can apply the Credibility Test. It is easy.  We only need to ask a few simple Yes-No questions. Every “No” answer is a warning that the source is pedaling fake news.   

1.  Is the source an expert on the topic? 

  • If not, be skeptical. When Neil deGrasse Tyson talks about the acceleration of the expansion of our Universe, I trust what he is saying.  Expertise counts! If my neighbor, a former LA Top-40 radio DJ were to tell me the same thing, I would not take his word for it.  I like the guy, but he is no astrophysicist.  Science is still science, even if people who harbor their contrary “heartfelt beliefs” do not like what the genuine experts have to say.

2.  Is the source relying on firsthand experience? 

  • If not, be skeptical. I trust what Chris Collingsworth says about professional football because I know that he played the game successfully as a professional for years.  But I do not trust what my brother Roger says about football at any level.  Sorry, Rog, you never played a single down.

 3.  Is the source speaking on the right topic?  

  • If the person is out of their element, be skeptical.  Don’t go to Chris Collingsworth for astrophysics information, and don’t go ask Neil deGrasse Tyson for advice about play calling in football.   Experts are experts only when they are on topic.  Which means, don’t buy a car because you like the movie star who is sitting behind the wheel in the TV commercial.

 4.  Is the source’s knowledge up-to-date?  

  • If not, be skeptical. A friend of mine told me that it was safer to stand still than to run during a lightning storm. I asked where the person heard that. She said back in elementary school.  But, when we looked it up, the latest science does not support that advice.  Turns out that the positrons in the Earth are drawn up toward the negatively charged electrons moving down from the storm.  The electrons jump to the closest Earth-bound thing where they can reach the positrons. Boom! Lightning! Don’t climb on top of the roof in a lightning storm or you might become the best target for the bolt, whether you are running around up there or standing still.

5.  Can the source explain the basis for their claim?  

  • If the person cannot, be skeptical.  As a rule, only trust those who can explain the reasons why their opinion is right. Don’t trust people whose only answer is “Trust me, I know.” One reason why people who had to work hard in school became some of the best teachers is because they know from personal experience how to help people learn.  One of the reasons that the greatest athletes often make terrible coaches is because they did not have to be students of the game to experience their success.  And, so, they often cannot explain the how and the why of what they want their players to do.   

 6.  Is the source truthful? 

  • If the person is a known liar, be skeptical. Seems obvious, right? Yet, we catch people lying to us about this or that, and yet we still believe them the next time they tell us something.  A person has a history of violating contracts, and yet we believe them when they tell us that they will keep their promise to us.  A person has a history of throwing others under the bus, and yet we think that we are the one person to whom they will remain loyal.  Who’s the idiot in that scenario?  The circus huckster, or us?  As politicians know, it can be tempting to tell one audience one thing and another audience another thing. Especially if we expect that neither audience is going to know what we said to the other.  Don’t trust people who will tell any lie to gain power, to be loved, to avoid rejection, to close a deal, to get their way.

 7.  Is the source unbiased? 

  • If the person is biased, be skeptical. Biases are lies we tell ourselves about other groups of people.  Like that all 70-year-old White guys are Republicans, or that all Christians are charitable. Be skeptical of opinions based on stereotypes. Just because it was a White guy who opened fire on concertgoers in Las Vegas, or blew up the Federal Building in Oklahoma, or killed nine people in a movie theater in Colorado, or attacked first graders at Sandy Hook Elementary, or gunned down 26 church goers in Texas does not mean all White guys are terrorists. 

8.  Is the source free of conflicts of interest?

  • If the person is compromising your interests to advance their own, be very skeptical. Learn to ask, “What’s in it for you?” It is one thing for a person accused of a crime to plead not guilty, it is another for us to believe him. That’s why we have the trial. How many famous people have we seen one day denying wrongdoing only to learn soon after that those tweets and press releases were just propaganda?  I expect my real estate agent, my lawyer, my banker, my mentor, and my friends to give me advice that is in my interest, not theirs. After all, they are supposed to be helping me, not using me to promote their own agendas. If your “news” broadcasts are meant to expand your ratings, gain higher revenue for commercial time, and benefit your stockholders, then you are a fake news entertainment outlet, fun to watch but foolish to believe.

9.  Is the source speaking freely? 

  • If the person is under duress, be skeptical.We have all seen the ISIS videos of captives being forced to “confess” while someone holds a knife to their neck. We all know to be skeptical of whatever that prisoner says.  The person is saying what they are forced to be saying.  Same if the person speaking is drugged, or if their loved one is being held for ransom, or if they are emotionally distraught, or deranged by starvation or disease.  Although it is a less extreme situation, we need to include under this heading the case of a person who is constrained by a legal agreement.  If you signed a non-disclosure agreement with your former employer, your contractual obligations may prevent you from providing us with all you know about a topic.

10.   Is the source mentally stable? 

  • If not, be skeptical. Sadly, we all have been drawn in by stories told to us by people whom we love but who are, unfortunately, mentally unstable. We want to help the person, we may even be torn by guilt if we do not take action.  But, when we do so, we discover that the facts are not as they were presented, and that the real story is not as we first heard it.  Was the person deliberately trying to manipulate us, or did the person really believe what they were saying?  Who’s to know.  But, as a rule of thumb, if you know your relative is a nut case, be skeptical.

If there is one theme running through these ten guidelines, it is this: Be skeptical. Apply your critical thinking skills to test the credibility of the source of the news you see or hear.

Instead of gulping fake news like a trained seal swallowing a mackerel, we all can demand full explanations, reasons, and evidence. We all can be suspicious of messages that come to us from people with something to gain by deceiving us.

And, finally, as a favor to one another, and to strengthen our democracy, we all can check the credibility of the source before we pass along something we heard at work or saw on our social media feed or the Internet.

About the author:  Peter A. Facione, PhD, is recognized internationally as an expert in critical thinking. In this essay he is speaking on that topic, based on decades of experience teaching and researching it. He can explain the basis for each of the ten recommendations in more detail, if asked.  He is speaking truthfully, he is not biased about critical thinking or the many benefits it offers to everyone. Although he holds the copyright, he offers this essay for free distribution to anyone who wishes to download a copy.  When he wrote this essay, he was not under duress and he was of sound mind. 

To download a pdf version of this blog post

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