Education must also train one for quick, resolute and effective thinking. To think incisively and to think for one’s self is very difficult. We are prone to let our mental life become invaded by legions of half truths, prejudices, and propaganda. At this point, I often wonder whether or not education is fulfilling its purpose. A great majority of the so-called educated people do not think logically and scientifically. Even the press, the classroom, the platform, and the pulpit in many instances do not give us objective and unbiased truths. To save man from the morass of propaganda, in my opinion, is one of the chief aims of education. Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.I'm afraid that I strongly agree with Dr. King that the education system continues to fail in its purpose, and that both educated people, as well as those not so educated, often seem to fail at thinking both logically and scientifically. I don't really know enough about education policy to address solutions, though it seems that focusing mathematics classes more on statistics and less on other topics like geometry as well as addressing topics such as cognitive biases at the high school level would help, but I do think that addressing the difference between political and empirical questions are worth addressing.
In many of the major topics of ideological division in America, such as taxes, climate change, guns, and the welfare state, we see political considerations and empirical questions conflated. If we are going to have a meaningful conversation on these topics it is necessary to distinguish between the two.
Since I've been writing about it, take gun control for instance (I thought about using global warming, but haven't been writing about it lately). In most discussions of the topic we see the political topic of should we impose controls on firearms conflated with the empirical questions of whether firearms contribute to crime.
This creates opportunities for the propaganda that King references to have an undue influence on the debate and interferes with our efforts to think about the topic objectively. The political question of what we should do about guns is entirely distinct from the empirical question of what effects guns have (guns are hardly unique in this).
Yet, most discussions on this topic make it sound like these are the same question with individuals becoming polarized on both sides around both normative, subjective political questions and objective, empirical questions. This is sloppy thinking, answering the empirical questions regarding the effects of guns does not tell us the answer to the normative question of what we should do about guns, it only allows us to have a grounded conversation about our normative, subjective beliefs regarding how we should react to the data unearthed by our empirical investigation. Without first grounding our beliefs empirically, however, we cannot reach the point of discussing our normative beliefs, we instead get bogged down in pointless discussions of speculative effects rather than discussing how to reconcile our conflicting normative beliefs about what to do in response to these known effects.*
* Not that effects can often be known with certainty. But the weight of evidence of competing claims is an essential element that needs to be added to our normative political discussions. It is simply not true that there is equal evidence to the video games cause homicide and guns cause homicide hypothesis, yet in most common media sources these hypotheses are presented equally simply because someone can be quoted as presenting them. This is a flaw that is in desperate need of correction and better scientific, and especially social scientific, literacy would help to make these discrepancies in evidence clear.