By Sid H. (TA High School Intern)
In a society where news organizations prioritize traffic over quality reporting, outreach and “clicks” are valued over quality. Teaching argumentation and reasoning skills can help combat the spread and effectiveness of misinformation and “fake news.” With the rise in popularity of social media, fake news is more prevalent now than ever. Fake news appeals to the reader by presenting inaccurate information and by using rhetoric to try to manipulate the reader’s outlook. However, with knowledge of arguments and critical thinking skills, readers will have the ability to identify such rhetoric and to decide not only whether the author’s conclusion is based on facts, but also whether those facts actually support the claims the author is making.
Knowing arguments and critical thinking can also help ease the polarized climate we live in today. Recently, in the United States, we had the longest government shutdown ever (35 days) in which both parties endlessly bantered over semantics and misrepresented the opposing arguments. Toxic arguments like these can have large effects on society as around half a million workers had to work without pay during the shutdown. Proper knowledge of arguments allows people to dissect others’ arguments and point out flaws and express disagreements clearer than just endlessly trying to portray your opponent as wrong. Teaching critical thinking and arguments will help ease disunity and allow problems to be solved faster.