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Critical Thinking in the Age of Celebrities

Critical Thinking in the Age of Celebrities

About two or three years ago, I read a shocking article that about 1/4 of the American populace believed the sun revolves around the Earth. I wondered who were answering the question: uneducated immigrants...or young kids...or...? How was the question posed? The who stood out in my mind.

Now, about a week ago, I read another article that said kids believed Kyrie Irving over their own teacher that the earth was flat. So, they are being taught the proper science but they'd rather believe the sports star before they would believe their teacher. Is this America's problem then: we would rather believe celebrities than the experts or the educated? Consider this: some celebrities are thinking of making a presidential run in 2020. Kid Rock (a musician who kind of have a druggie look), Rock Johnson (an actor) and maybe/briefly Oprah (talk show empress). None of them have experience in dealing/managing/working with multiple stakeholders. They could stand a chance of winning an election just because they are stars and have name recognition. But that is not a good basis of electing your representative.

And then consider the election of Donald Trump. People voted for him for various reasons: he's an outsider (although he might actually be the ultimate insider with his funding donations); he's a successful businessman (supposedly, remember he had 6 bankruptcies); and he has high name recognition through his show "The Apprentice". A lot of businessmen run for office and get elected because it is assumed that businessmen can get things done. Trump might have gotten elected on all of those factors, but I wonder if his being a celebrity was a bigger factor. Has his celebrity-hood short circuited people's mental ability to think through things? The kids would rather get their facts from a sports star; maybe people would rather listen to a celebrity - especially an entertaining one. Trump did not have much policy substance but he sure was very entertaining during the whole run.

But it's one thing to be entertaining during a campaign run and another to be "entertaining" when dealing with life and death issues.

Could the kids' preference to believe sports stars be a clue to why a large section of America chose a reality show star (or prefers picking stars in general)?