How to Think in a Post-Truth World

Andrew Wilson | September 27, 2017

The day before I received my copy of Alan Jacobs’s How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds, I saw a tweet that made me chuckle. Neil DeGrasse Tyson wrote, somewhat wistfully, “In school, rarely do we learn how data become facts, how facts become knowledge, and how knowledge becomes wisdom.” To which someone replied: “Hi Neil, That’s literally what we teach. Thanks for the shoutout! Sincerely, The Humanities.”

A silly exchange, but one that illustrates why Jacobs’s book is both timely and encouraging. Timely, because we’re currently swimming in a sea of punditry, post-truth, partisanship, and perpetual news, which seems to be making engaged thoughtfulness harder and harder. Encouraging, because in spite of all this, Jacobs is optimistic about the possibility of thinking:

I truly believe that there are some insufficiently explored ways to understand and ameliorate the problems we have in thinking. We have thought too much in recent years about the science of thinking, and not enough about the art. There are certain humanistic traditions, some of them quite ancient, that can come to our aid when we’re trying to think about thinking, and to get better at it.

Popularizing scientists, take…

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