The amount of information that's shared on social media is mind boggling. Perhaps that's one of the reasons why critical thinking skills seem to have disappeared in political discussion.

When we're honest with ourselves, we admit we tend to believe the stories that most fit our own biases. Aren't we reinforced by our friends who think like we do and discount people with opposing views? I am certainly guilty of that. But then I recall that as a trained educator, I was taught to use and teach critical thinking over egocentric thinking.

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Critical thinking is "the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment." We expect our graduating high school seniors to be critical thinkers, yet we seem to have lost this skill when it comes to making decisions about our country.

Critical thinking builds infrastructure, grows crops, solves energy problems and should be used by citizens to vote responsibly.

So, what gets in its way? Another part of the problem is the barrage of information that we're now subjected to daily. It's also likely that being human, we want to keep things simple. It's easier to say "the liberals are crazy" or "conservatives are uncaring."

What about other influences? We're probably being manipulated more than we'd like to believe. The so-called "liberal" media may be pushing an agenda at times, but I fear the most purposeful manipulation comes from the extreme right.

All we can do is search for objective information, sort through it and try to apply these skills rather than just believing what's on Facebook or Twitter. I hope as a society we get better at it. ​

Paul Olson

Alvarado, Minn.