Mike Duffy has a real problem with teaching critical thinking. He’s coming right off my Christmas card list.
“When I went to the school of hard knocks, we were told to be fair and balanced,” Duffy was quoted from his speech in yesterday’s issue of the Amherst Daily News. “That school doesn’t exist any more. Kids who go to King’s, or the other schools across the country, are taught from two main texts.”
According to Duffy — a former CTV News journalist appointed to the Senate last year by Prime Minister Stephen Harper — those two texts are Manufacturing Consent, Chomsky’s book on mainstream media, and books about the theory of critical thinking.
“When you put critical thinking together with Noam Chomsky, what you’ve got is a group of people who are taught from the ages of 18, 19 and 20 that what we stand for, private enterprise, a system that has generated more wealth for more people because people take risks and build businesses, is bad,” Duffy is quoted as saying.
Teaching Chomsky? I don’t care about that. Teach it, don’t teach it, whatever. But boy, do journalists need to learn about critical thinking. Take the journalist’s perennial inability to identify credible sources, and the demand for ‘balance’; as Richard Dawkins put it: “When two opposite points of view are expressed with equal intensity, the truth does not necessarily lie exactly halfway between them. It is possible for one side to be simply wrong.”
And it turns out Duffy is, in fact, wrong. King’s don’t teach from Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent, and the King’s School of Journalism makes no apologies for teaching critical thinking:
“We’re trying to teach people to have critical thinking skills, to hold accountable anyone who is in any way in authority,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s the Conservatives, the NDP, the Green party, they’re all fair game in the sense that they have to be able to be transparent.”