Thinking Critically

(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Social media has opened the door to all manner of debate and discourse. It's a new age forum, a virtual Speakers' Corner, if you will . Unlike the famous Speakers' Corner in Hyde Park in London, home to prophets and proselytizers since the mid 1800s, this one is accessible to all, and one need not even wait a turn at the podium.

Pick a topic, any topic, and Google it. You'll find blogs, chat boards, and something called "affinity spaces." If you have something to say, sites like Facebook, Twitter --and way too many more to mention -- give you a place to say it.

Check this out.

(Source: Brian Solis & JESS3, with permission)

This is a good thing, I guess. Mostly, anyway. But thus a world of "experts" on anything and everything was born. Perhaps the ease of expressing one's thoughts has fostered too much easy thoughtless expression.

I recently posted a citation on a Facebook thread about GMOs. The article I cited had links to several studies claiming GMOs are harmful to humans. I offered no opinion (because I don't know enough to have one), I simply posted the link. Well, down came the wrath of The Gods-of-What's-Happening-Now upon my virtual head. Boom. As an example: "#*&!@%* (name removed to protect the apparently guilty) is a joke, and one becomes a joke when citing it." My bad, because being as uninformed as I am, I didn't know the people behind with article were aligned with the dark side, and nothing I saw when checking it out before posting it told me so.

Now, I have no problem with people expressing their opinions. But something about the tone of certitude many commenters take doesn't sit well with me. I've been thinking about it since, and what bothers me is that some people seem to have forgotten that that's just what their comments are, opinions. And like concrete, opinions set quickly and become immoveable bias or partisanship.

One commenter advised me to check out a link that offered "A Guide to Looking Smart on the Internet." I kid you not; that was the title of the article. He then went on to recommend sites targeting skeptics.

Hmmm, am I a skeptic? I suppose I may appear to be. I hope I'm not, though. The road from skepticism to cynicism is a short one. I would prefer to think of myself as a critical thinker. I wish more people were.

Oh, and about my thoughts on the GMO thing? Like I said, I don't really know much about it. And let's face it, you can find opinions from an army of those aforementioned experts, on either side of the GMO fence, citing research studies to support their position that may or may not be valid. (Beware using one of them in a comment at the Speakers' Corner, however, lest... well, you know.) But here's what I think. There is enough "out there" that says the pesticides used on GMO crops (crops developed by the same companies, by the way, who manufacture the pesticides) may be harmful to humans. That's enough to make me come down on the side of caution, when I can. Unfortunately, since we don't have uniform labeling, it's not always possible, but I try. Thinking critically, you know.

1 comment:

  1. This was on perfect point with a non-dancing online dance I've been avoiding about the Ukraine and Maidan coverage. On the one hand all attitude, on the other boots on the ground direct view. And here I sit in CT. Thanks Patti. This blog spot piece has a double edge for neophytes like me. But then, we have never had a dull conversation!


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