Discovery Institute, critical thinking
Does the Discovery Institute promote critical thinking?
"The purpose of this policy is to foster critical thinking among students" - Cobb county Board of Education on textbook stickers.
The Discovery Institute proposes teaching alternatives to biological evolution in science classes. It maintains that learning alternatives promotes "critical thinking". The Discovery Institute ignores the nature of "critical thinking" and how it's appropriate for science. Raymond S. Nickerson lists critical thinking skills, but which of these are essential to science? In fact Piaget's formal reasoning skills describe what scientists use. Piagetan skills central to science include handling abstractions, probabilistic thinking, controlling variables, designing experiments and testing hypotheses. Without basic scientific knowledge and some Piagetan skills, "critical thinking" can be propositional logic or merely rationalizing. Propositional logic is a Piagetan skill, but it's easily contaminated by dubious premises and is more central to rhetoric than to science.
"Critical analysis is part of science" - Thomas Marshall, Ohio State University
"Federal Judge Rules that "Fostering Critical Thinking" About Evolution has Secular Purpose..." Staff, Discovery Institute
Without basic scientific knowledge and Piagetan skills, students hear "two stories", learn to rationalize them and choose one by combining propositional logic with personal prejudices. Such "critical thinking" is better described as sophomoric reasoning. Many students already equate rationalizing with critical thinking. High science standards require formal reasoning skills, not rationalizing. Adults who ignore the logical fallacy of equating scientific and nonscientific explanations (in a science class) set a low intellectual standard.
The Discovery Institute also promotes dubious ideas such as scientific theories being little more than speculation, that members the National Academy are biased and unreliable, that science and apologetics differ little, that reading scientific literature is unimportant, that petitions are helpful in making scientific decisions, etc.
Is intelligent design creationism?
Dissent from Darwin