The central role of critical thinking in countering ‘the self-destructive madness of mankind’

In a recent interview in the ‘Financial Times’, the writer Joyce Carol Oates responded to the question ‘What is the greatest challenge of our time?’

She answered ‘Most observers would say the challenges of dealing with global warming; but this is linked to the tragic repudiation of science, rationality and fundamental common sense that has swept like a fever over much of the world. Thus, the greatest challenge is something like dealing with the self-destructive madness of humankind.’

This very much fits with the very great need for critical thinking to deal with so many of today’s big issues. We need to use critical thinking to cut through the deliberately distorted interpretations of evidence that is linked to the pandemic, to counter the misinformation about economic issues, and to highlight that saying one thing and then doing another is unacceptable.

In these ways, critical thinking has a huge role to play to counter ‘the tragic repudiation of science, rationality and fundamental common sense’. We should teach it in schools from Early Years onwards so that the next generation can reject the ‘self-destructive madness’.


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