Sunday, March 4, 2012

On Crap Detection

In his “Bullshit and the Art of Crap-Detection” (Delivered at the National Convention for the Teachers of English, November 28, 1969, Washington, D.C.), Neil Postman said the following:

As I see it, the best things schools can do for kids is to help them learn how to distinguish useful talk from bullshit. I will ask only that you agree that every day in almost every way people are exposed to more bullshit than it is healthy for them to endure, and that if we can help them to recognize this fact, they might turn away from it and toward language that might do them some earthly good.

I think that Postman is right about the importance of teaching students to distinguish between “useful talk” and BS. I also think that the best way to teach students this skill is by sharpening their critical thinking skills. Without an understating of the basics of (informal) logic, one’s crap-detector would not function properly.

On this blog, I will post stuff that I find conducive to this aim, i.e., helping students master the art of crap-detection. So, I hope that my students—and other students as well—will find this blog helpful on their way to becoming crap detectives themselves.

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