Press Release: Survey: Many Americans Don't Listen to Alternative Perspectives, Lack Other Critical Thinking Skills

There is Broad Support for Teaching Reasoning in Schools

Alternative Perspectives


Contact: Kent Fischer, [email protected]

For Release Nov 10, 2020

PARIS – A survey published today by the Reboot Foundation finds that nearly half of Americans acknowledge that they generally do not engage in discussions with people holding opinions different from theirs.

The survey, The State of Critical Thinking: 2020, examined opinions on critical thinking among the general public. It found that almost half of the individuals surveyed reported only “sometimes,” “rarely,” or “never” seeking out people with different opinions to engage in discussion.

Given that so many people acknowledge living in an information “bubble,” it is unsurprising that the American electorate is so polarized and uncompromising, said Reboot CEO Helen Lee Bouygues, author of the report.

“A cornerstone of critical thinking is an openness to making judgments and solving problems in a reflective, objective manner,” Bouygues said. “Everything we’ve seen with the U.S. presidential election and the skepticism and misinformation around the coronavirus pandemic, supports our survey results that too many Americans do not want their beliefs or opinions challenged.”

When it comes to schools, the survey’s respondents recognized the importance of teaching critical thinking skills: 95 percent thought critical thinking courses should be required at the K-12 level, and 91 percent thought they should be required in college.

Encouragingly, more people want critical thinking skills taught earlier, with 43 percent saying early childhood was the ideal time to develop these skills, a timeframe supported by researchers. That’s a 23-percentage point increase over a previous Reboot survey on the topic. 

Other notable findings from the report:

• About 55 percent reported their critical thinking skills had improved since high school, with almost 25 percent reporting that their skills had deteriorated since. 

• 94 percent said critical thinking is “extremely” or “very important,” and 86 percent said they find those skills lacking in the general public.

The State of Critical Thinking: 2020 was conducted prior to last week’s U.S. presidential election. You can read the full results here

The Reboot Foundation is devoted to elevating critical thinking. In a time of vast technological change, the foundation aims to promote richer, more reflective forms of thought in schools, homes, and businesses. Reboot funds efforts to integrate critical thinking into the daily lives of people, and it conducts surveys, opinion polls and original research.

The Learning Agency is a Washington, DC-based education organization. Our mission is to help individuals and organizations harness the power of learning to solve problems.

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