International Man: Thanks to the internet and modern technology, the average person can now access information on almost any topic with relative ease.
But it seems people are doing less critical thinking than ever.
Why do you think that is the case?
Doug Casey: Technology is a double-edged sword when it comes to critical thinking. It’s paradoxical that something so associated with knowledge and research is often at odds with wisdom. I think that’s partly because today’s technology offers instant answers—no thought required. You can go to Google, and an answer is at your fingertips. It doesn’t require research or thought—the answer just appears. It subtly obviates the need for contemplation.
Let’s first define what critical thinking is. I’d say it’s the process of questioning the validity of the assumptions and the accuracy of the data for everything. A critical thinker never assumes or takes anything for granted.
We can’t always be sure what the quality of a googled answer is, but most people assume it’s honest and correct. However, considering the nature of the people who run Google, Wikipedia, and websites of that nature, I prefer to assume that the quality of many answers is low.
In fact, the volume of data available through computer technology is so great that there’s a tendency to confuse all that quantity with quality. When the world, and the data stream, is moving very quickly, it seems you have less time to contemplate its meaning. You can get lost in it and lose perspective.
It reminds me of a scene out of the original Rollerball movie from the 1970s with James Caan. Books no longer exist. All knowledge is contained in an all-powerful computer. The scientist in charge of the computer is talking to another character and says, “Yeah, for some reason, we’ve lost the 13th century,” and he kicks the machine. It’s the only source of what used to be in millions of books.
We’re almost in a situation where everything comes from one source—basically Google—rather than researching books, getting answers from a dozen points of view, and thinking critically about their meaning. Sure, Google gives you many references. But how many others have been “cancelled?” How many considered politically incorrect are buried as deep as the 13th century in Rollerball?