We human beings tend to be easily fooled, even by our own senses. Optical illusions show that we can’t even trust the things our own eyes are telling us. While strange drawings might not really make an impact on our lives, being fooled about the things that are going on around us can and will lead to disaster. To combat this type of problem, human beings need to rely on tools external to their senses. “Fake News” and deepfakes are all part of a massive propaganda machine that is dedicated to misinforming the public and keeping them off-balance. Mass communication has made it easy to find information that we already agree with but makes it even more challenging to determine whether what we agree with is the truth. In the midst of all this, technology has some tools that might be able to help us to help ourselves.
Myths in a Time of Pandemics
With unsubstantiated reports coming from several areas of the world regarding the international outbreak of COVID-19, tech has had to deal with the latest threat to truth. The WHO praised Facebook’s efforts in trying to stem the flow of misinformation across its social media pages. However, dealing with this misinformation is only a bandage on a gaping wound. Theories about the dangers of 5G or the assumption that the earth is not a spheroid are all symptoms of the same disease – a lack of critical thinking. While social media giants are “dealing” with the problem through banning and removing unsubstantiated claims, and even providing fact-checking resources, they aren’t addressing the root cause of the issue.
Is Tech Making Us Stupid?
As we have started to gain dependence on technology, a few scholars have raised the alarm that overdependence on technology might end up making us less able to think critically. Some of these suppositions come from the understanding that reading stimulates different parts of the brain to other types of visual media, like video games or movies. New technology, such as artificial intelligence combined with deep learning, has made it less necessary for entrepreneurs to think critically about their business processes. Instead, it’s a simple matter of training the system to recognize key performance indicators and advise the company on how to improve them.
While the jury is still out on whether tech is indeed making us stupid, overdependence on any tool can be a problem. However, when it comes to misinformation, much of it can be disproven by merely critical thinking. Technology is a tool, and by using it to spread misinformation that preys on the belief of a populace, it assumes that most people within the demographic it’s targeting won’t question the ideas presented. Politics and ideologies have a significant impact on whether an individual accepts something as fact or not. Tech isn’t making us stupid, but it isn’t providing an opportunity for us to exercise our critical thinking. Overdependence on tech makes us less likely to question the things that tech presents to us. As the Cambridge Analytica scandal showed us, not everything tech offers to us is in our best interest. Sometimes, through analysis of our personalities and beliefs, it can introduce ideas that may skew our perceptions. The only way to deal with situations like these is to make critical thinking a crucial part of our thought processes once more.