Thursday, February 08, 2018

Critical thinking strategy and evaluating sources #fakenews

Two rather different items, both relevant to evaluating information. The first is a short article by researchers in Australia, outlining steps to encourage people to think critically about issues such as climate change.
- Cook, J., Ellerton, P. and Kinkead, D. (2018, Febraury 6). Deconstructing climate misinformation to identify reasoning errors. Environmental Research Letters, 13(2).  (open access)"We offer a strategy based on critical thinking methods to analyse and detect poor reasoning within denialist claims. This strategy includes detailing argument structure, determining the truth of the premises, and checking for validity, hidden premises, or ambiguous language. Focusing on argument structure also facilitates the identification of reasoning fallacies by locating them in the reasoning process. Because this reason-based form of inoculation is based on general critical thinking methods, it offers the distinct advantage of being accessible to those who lack expertise in climate science. ... This comprehensive deconstruction and refutation of the most common denialist claims about climate change is designed to act as a resource for communicators and educators who teach climate science and/or critical thinking." Their video abstract is below (though, to be honest, I think the video mostly shows that this ISN'T a set of steps that you could use to convince complete strangers in a coffee shop).
The second is also a fairly short article, which summarises nicely some of the key effects and biases that have been identified through research (e.g. confirmation bias, focusing effect) with the issues of trying just to take a rational approach. The finish by proposing that there "are two tests that we can apply to digital information sources (coherence and persuasiveness), and two habits we need to relearn: trusting our professional instincts and experience and approaching evaluation from a disinterested position."
- Tredinnick, L. and Laybats, C. (2017). Evaluating digital sources: Trust, truth and lies. Business Information Review, 34(4), 172–175. (not open access).

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