Some time back, I wrote about the importance of Critical Thinking in the Age of the Internet. Although I have spoken to the boys – particularly G1, since he is older and has more understanding – that they cannot believe everything they see on the Internet, sometimes, it helps to have a real-world example to make it more concrete.
We were in the car talking about our favourite movies when G1 said the Minecraft movie was going to be one of his favourites. Since the movie is not out and he had never seen it before, I asked how he could possibly know that it was going to be a favourite? Even though the idea of a Minecraft movie is exciting, he might change his mind after watching it. A lot of fans are often disappointed when their favourite books are made into movies and the story doesn’t quite match up with their expectations. G1 confidently replied that he was sure he would love it since he had already seen the preview.
I talked about how I had seen lots of movie previews that looked really fantastic only to have the movie fall short because all the best parts were already revealed in the preview. A preview is an ad for a movie so it has to be good or the movie won’t sell. So determined to prove his point, G2 showed me the Minecraft preview and I realised that it wasn’t a real preview. It was fan-made, although this fan had tried to make it look authentic with logos from Warner Bros and Mojang.
So G1 and I had a little discussion about the reliability of information on the Internet and this example became a critical thinking exercise for him. We covered stuff like:
- The source of information – who shared the information? Is it the original source? Is this a reliable source? In our particular example, it said the movie was made by Warner Bros. If that was the case, why doesn’t Warner Bros have this preview on their site?
- Supporting evidence – does anyone else corroborate the information? What other sources report the same thing? Are they credible sources? In this example, we looked at other sites talking about a Minecraft movie and whether they were also reporting the same information. We found an article from Mojang – the creators of Minecraft – who did confirm a movie was in the pipeline. However, contrary to this video, Mojang reports that the movie would not be out until 2019, while the video stated 2018.
- Quality of the information – then we talked about the quality of the video. Judging from the quality of the video, it was difficult to believe that a company of the calibre of Warner Bros would produce such a low quality preview. No only was the footage low quality, there were spelling and grammatical errors in the text.
- Logic and Reasoning – This video was shared in 2014. Given that the movie will only be released in 2019 – five years away, what is the likelihood that Warner Bros would even have footage to share publicly? The article written by Mojang was published June 2016 and it did not have much to share about the movie. Surely Mojang would have alluded to a preview video if there was one to see.
It was a terrific exercise because it was a topic close to his heart and of great interest to him. Perhaps another aspect we should have discussed was his personal bias and emotional investment that clouded his judgement and clarity of mind. When we want something to be true, we are often too eager to overlook the obvious tells that give away misleading information. G1 wanted his Minecraft movie so badly that he was desperate to hold on to the infinitesimal possibility that the video was a true preview.
- Why Children Need to be Taught Thinking Skills
- Critical Thinking in the Age of the Internet
- Resources: Critical Thinking and Reasoning Skills
- Thinking Games to Challenge the Mind