The psychology of critical thinking and disinformation

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Logic vs Emotion road signs. Photo by Shutterstock.

Science, data, and logic serve as powerful tools in formulating ideas and solving problems. But our capacity for rational thought has not always gone hand in hand with a universal ability to think and behave sensibly. At a time when our species has doubled its lifespan, sequenced our own genome, and developed vaccines within the space of a year, it has also produced massive amounts of disinformation, quack cures, conspiracy theories, and “post-truth” rhetoric. What’s happened to our ability to think critically? Is an opinion based on human gut feeling really the same thing as one based on logic and fact?


Steven Pinker is a professor of Psychology at Harvard University and author of “Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters.” Photo by Rose Lincoln

Jonathan Bastian talks with Steven Pinker, professor of Psychology at Harvard University and author of “Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters” about the role of rationality in a “post truth” world, and the value of our critical thinking tools when it comes to our beliefs and personal choice. 


Book cover “Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters” 

Credits

Guest:

  • Steven Pinker - Cognitive scientist and professor of Psychology, Harvard University; author of “Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters” - @sapinker

Producer:

Andrea Brody