Defense against the Dark Arts! An intro to Critical Thinking...

The information age is quickly turning into a 'mis'information age as we are increasingly being manipulated and lied to. Learn the skills to spot these, and 'defend' yourself against the 'dark art' of social media manipulation!

A course for children entering Grades 7, 8, 9, 10 during 2021-22 

(Younger children may attend, if they have been exposed to the mathematical concept of 'Averages')

The information age is quickly turning into a misinformation age as we are increasingly being manipulated and lied to, by everyone. Our leaders, our media, the companies trying to sell us things, the companies wanting to collect our data, and even the companies claiming to expose the lies of other companies are manipulating us. In fact, even our friends and family inadvertently end up doing the same when they send us 'forwards' without critically analyzing them for accuracy.

One of the most important skills to learn is the ability to spot these lies and protect ourselves from being manipulated. This course will use practical examples and case-studies to analyze how and why the manipulation occurs, how and why most targets fall for these tricks, and how to spot, analyze and disarm them.

We will look at two broad problems: outright lies ("fake news") and technically true statements that are created to mislead. For lies, we will analyze how to spot lies, why even easy-to-disprove lies are widely believed, and how to prevent ourselves from falling for such lies. In case of misleading truths, we will see ways in which numbers and statistics can mislead (for example, use of absolute values instead of percentages or vice versa, or use of mean instead of Median or vice versa), ways in which text/stories/graphics can mislead (for example, in advertisements), and common sense ways in which to estimate the accuracy of the statements (for example, through basic web searches for information, looking for connections and relationships, making approximations and ballpark estimates).

After this course, students would be better equipped to defend themselves against the dark arts of social media manipulation.

PS: Please watch the documentary "The Social Dilemma" on Netflix, if you haven't seen it already.