About a month ago, I landed on a site called American Thinker. I noticed “critical thinking” in the title of an essay by investigative journalist, Richard F. Miniter: “The Great Critical Thinking Dodge”. Because I routinely conduct critical thinking courses in my discipline, my curiosity was piqued. I was disappointed, however, that the essay was more a superficial political attack than a genuine engagement with an interesting topic: critical thinking and the politics of education.
You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time. — Abraham Lincoln
Some people believe that politicians attempt the ultimate fool: all of the people all of the time. Consequently, many observers find politics, and especially political campaigns, to be distasteful at best, and morally offensive at worst. Candidates, it is believed, will say anything to get elected, will engage in ruthless practices to win votes.
Of course, political “dirty tricks” and manipulative rhetoric disguised as argument are nothing new. That’s because they’re effective, inviting you to check your thinking skills at the door. The current master of this technique is the man who ‘has the best words,’ Donald J. Trump:
It’s in the air. You can catch a whiff from the U.S. presidential race as it gears up for the 2016 election. But it’s not just a political fragrance. No, it’s a pungently familiar smell that permeates all aspects of our lives. You produced some yourself in your last job interview. And, yes, that advertisement for penis enlargement supplements is an exemplar. “What’s that scent?” you ask. It’s bullshit.