101: Critical Thinking in a Social Media World (What You Didn’t Learn in History Class)

Critical thinking in a social media world (what you didn’t learn in history class)

Today we’re talking about a topic that fascinates me personally: how to learn critical thinking in an age that accepts the latest meme or “fake news” without question.

I started out as a journalism major, and at the time I believed I could help the world by getting “the right answers” and putting them out there. Now I understand it’s not that black and white. We all know that news sources often bring their own political agenda to the table.

It takes clear thinking and a degree of skepticism to discern fact from fiction … not to mention everything in between. So how can we cultivate these abilities? Do our schools teach them? How can we as adults learn them in a rapidly changing world and how can we teach this skill to our children?

Tom Woods on Critical Thinking for the 21st Century

Economist, historian, and homeschooling parent Tom Woods explains why critical thinking is increasingly important in a social media and buzz feed world. With 4 Ivy League degrees (yes, 4!)—one of them a PhD in History from Columbia University—Tom Woods has the credentials.

But he didn’t stop there.

Tom Woods has made his life’s work to teach as many people as possible to be out-of-the-box entrepreneurs and problem solvers by teaching critical thinking. History and economics matters to everyone, he argues, because they are the keys to how the world works, and why.

The result of his efforts? Tom Woods is followed by a huge virtual community interested in applying critical thinking and creative solutions to political problems.

I love what he has to say, and I hope you do too!

In This Episode, You’ll Learn

  • why understanding economics shouldn’t be for an elite few
  • how to learn to think critically in a “fake news” world
  • a simple explanation of the power of the free market
  • convincing reasons why knowing history matters in today’s society
  • the problems Tom Woods thinks government faces over the next few decades
  • why Social Security isn’t the only government program with major problems
  • one pitfall of democratic societies (can you guess?)
  • ways to educate yourself on the history, art, culture, and economics you may have missed in school
  • resources for sharing your worldview with your kids
  • why government solutions actually can rob us of an opportunity for creativity
  • Tom’s perspective on mainstream news outlets (and how to choose news sources wisely)
  • what’s needed to prepare kids for the politics of college environments
  • whether the higher education system still has value
  • why knowing how to create a profitable YouTube channel might be just as important as a college education
  • what Austrian economics is, and what it has to do with America
  • common misconceptions about states’ rights … and what American history really has to say

Even if you disagree politically, here’s one of Tom Woods’ messages we all probably can get behind: we can each accomplish great things without being forced to do so.

Resources We Mention

Your turn! What do you think about what Tom Woods has to say? What do you think makes someone a good critical thinker?

Special Thanks to Today’s Sponsors

Today’s podcast is brought to you by Four Sigmatic. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen me mention them before. I have been using and loving and Instagramming their products for years. They have an amazing instant mushroom coffee.

I know it sounds weird, but hear me out! It’s not only the best instant coffee I’ve ever tried, it’s also pretty high up on the list of best coffee I’ve tried, period! It’s made with superfood mushrooms like Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps, and Chaga mushrooms. And these mushrooms have some big health benefits, plus give you energy and mental clarity without the jitters from traditional coffee.

If you aren’t a caffeine person, they also have a variety of mushroom teas and other caffeine-free products. I love them so much that I reached out and they agreed to give a discount to my listeners. So, go to foursigmatic.com/wellnessmama and use the code “WellnessMama” to get 10% off.

This episode is sponsored by Kettle and Fire Bone Broth. If you love the benefits of bone broth but don’t love the time it takes to make and how tough it can be to find quality bones to make it, Kettle and Fire is for you! Their bone broth is a regular staple in my kitchen these days, and it was what I used to create the recipes in my new bone broth e-book (releasing later this year).

So they use only bones from 100% grass-fed pasture raised cattle that are never given hormones and antibiotics. It’s also unique because they focus on bones that are especially high in collagen, which is one of the healthiest things you can put in your body. You can find them in many Whole Foods on the west coast and you can also order online at Kettleandfire.com/mama.

This post contains affiliate links. Click here to read my affiliate policy.

Reader Interactions

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Reader Comments

  1. Katie, I have really enjoyed a lot of your podcasts! I think they are well thought out and you always cause me to think about the choices that we’ve made in regards to the topic that you are discussing. That being said I was really bummed about this one. Being someone who doesn’t align with neoconservative philosophies I was a little on edge about hearing from Tom Woods on education and how to make our kids think — but I’ve come to trust how you present information and was ready to hear him out. I was disappointed by the interview, I thought you could have challenged him more and I think his “history” is sorely misguided and puts fuel to the fire that has been raging in America.

    • Thanks for the thoughtful comment. You’re right that I could have challenged him more, and this is something I will keep in mind in future episodes. Thanks for listening!

    • Tom Woods is absolutely NOT a neoconservative. If you doubt, please go to his website and read more!

    • Mimi, I’m sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy the episode. But I must correct you: I am a relentless critic of neoconservatism, which is why you don’t find me in any of their publications or speaking at their conferences. For one thing, I’m resolutely antiwar, which is the polar opposite of the neoconservative view.

      If there’s a claim I made in the interview that you believe to be incorrect, I’d be happy to address it. Sometimes it’s difficult to hear opinions that are far removed from what I call the 3×5 card of allowable opinion, and this can jolt us. But we need this: any country that thinks the range of allowable opinion should run just from Clinton to Trump is, if I may put it this way, deranged.

  2. I have to agree with the previous comment. He discredits all media with sweeping generalizations. LIke any field there are great journalists and unreliable ones too.
    I hear enough polarizing people each day and did not enjoy this episode. So many of the people you interview are smart and humble people I want to keep listening and learning from them! Unfortunately I did not feel that today!

    • I’m so sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy this episode. I thought it would be helpful for the many homeschooling families that read and listen, but I certainly see how it would not be a fit for everyone. Back to health and wellness topics tomorrow 🙂

    • I agree! I felt really put off by his arrogance and sweeping generalizations of the media while he simultaneously sets himself up as THE expert. Everyone is biased, though, and it’s not helpful or accurate to pretend like you’re the only objective truth on there as I felt he did.

      • Megan, I appreciate what you are saying, but when we consider how consistently misleading the entire media — truly, almost without exception — was leading up to the war in Iraq (Judith Miller at the New York Times absolutely taking the cake!), I find it very strange that there isn’t more outrage about the media, or that we’d be trying to make excuses. Countless people lost their lives as a direct result of our media’s shameful behavior.

        And that’s only one example. There are many more. You should be much, much angrier at this outrage than you are at me for speaking about it.

  3. I visit your site regularly and appreciate very much the time you take to research topics that I would love to investigate but can’t find the time for. Thank you for that.

    I didn’t get to listen to the whole podcast and only skimmed the transcript, but even without knowing who Tom Woods was, I was a little anxious to listen after reading just the title. I certainly agree that there is a staggering amount of misleading and inaccurate and harmful information on the internet and in the media, and I wholeheartedly want children (and everyone) to learn how to distinguish between fact and fiction. I also agree that there is “fake news”; however I believe that at this point in history, the most famous user of the term “fake news” uses it almost solely for the purpose of casting doubt, without any supporting evidence, on any opposing information presented by the media. As such, I think that using that term in a title and introductory paragraph suggests that the author, and most likely interviewee, agree with or support or want to spread that definition or use, too.

    I am sure that you don’t actually believe that it’s ok to call anything unfavorable “fake news”, but I thought I’d share my perspective/opinion regarding the term’s use in the title and first paragraph (even regardless of what the interview was about).

  4. thanks for replying Katie – I’ll keep listening and I hope you don’t feel like we don’t want to hear your perspectives outside of health and wellness. I was actually excited about seeing how you take your researchers brain into other areas of your life. Teaching and developing critical think in google age is so important not just for kids but for all of us who have maybe gotten too comfortable with google and facebook answers and not actual research. That being said — Tom Woods book Politically Incorrect Guide to American History is more than just politically incorrect it rewrites the civil war to be a war of northern aggression rather than a war about slavery which is undeniably what it was. Because I know you enjoy facts and research and articles I’ve included a piece I thought was eye opening below. Thanks!

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2001/04/12/southern-comfort/?utm_source=Weekend+Reader&utm_campaign=a7a94f41a7-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_08_20&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_a746b796bf-a7a94f41a7-68944161

  5. Thanks for this podcast. Truth from an entrepreneurial free-thinker. We truly have lost the ability to think critically and respect differing opinions. He absolutely spoke truthfully and knowledgeably from his real-life work experience, not to mention his decade plus recent time spent in universities and colleges. His opinion should be respected but no one is necessarily obligated to agree with him. Part of thinking critically is not reacting on emotions. I was a homeschool mom. All my children have graduated. I heartily agree with many things Tom said. It’s wise to teach your children the slants of the news broadcast companies and newspapers. Your children must learn to come to their own self-researched and informed opinions. A bonus would be to be able to argue their points eloquently to their society. Nevertheless, your job is to educate them to be wise in what God thinks is wise and rightfully divide His word. They will then be able to step into their job as mature, wise voting citizens to rightly divide the pressing issues of their time. They will be able to govern correctly their generation. Hopefully our society will come together in the future rather than fragment altogether. Thanks for presenting this thoughtful and well-balanced perspective. Good job. Sounds like a great curriculum. I appreciate your willingness to research and present this topic.

  6. I read the transcript and paid his classroom site a visit. As someone who has been a student of American history for over 30 years (beyond school textbooks, actual research performed), I have to say that it is so refreshing to see someone putting forth a great effort to educate people about history and economics. The pitiful experience our children have today in the school and university system is a major contributor to the problems and turbulence we as a nation are experiencing. In regard to the media, there’s not enough time and space for me comment on that. I enjoyed this!

  7. I 100% agree with the comment above. Anyone who thinks that the media is not agenda driven is “sorely misguided”. Good job, Katie on tackling this topic and having the courage to step outside of your typical content. Don’t be discouraged by a few negative commenters some of which did not even listen to the entire podcast. I did not feel you needed to challenge him, I appreciated the conversation style of the interview and I ” ate the fish and spit out the bones”. Well done!

  8. I usually really appreciate these podcasts so much especially the ones that are a bit off the health beat (not that I don’t love the health stuff!) but this one rubbed me the wrong way. I echo the other comments about his broad-stroke dismissal of the media but also, one of the biggest challenges we face and our children will face is climate change and it’s weird that that didn’t come up. There’s no economy/jobs of any kind, traditional or otherwise, on a deadline planet. I know I’m risking a lot of blowback for bringing this up but in science, climate change isn’t up for debate and hasn’t been since at least the ’60s.

    Still, I have to admit that I have not gotten very far going the traditional route and now feel like it’s too late for me, especially since I’m terrible at code (I’ve tried Codecademy) and the hard sciences. I desperately want a lucrative career that contributes to others in a way that I can be good at and love, but everything I’ve tried to figure that out has made my stuckness worse. It sounds like his resources are for people who already know what they’re doing and are good at stuff that matters. I don’t feel like that’s me no matter what I try. I feel thrown out into the world as if traditional education is enough and it feels too overwhelming to get caught up enough to make it in the world.

  9. Katie, I can appreciate a lot of what Tom had to say and understand your interest in providing resources for homeschooling parents. I personally did not like the political nature of the podcast. There are plenty of other podcasts that are politically charged and if I wanted to listen to a political podcast I would not be listening Wellness Mama. I love what you do and have listened to your podcast for a long time and will continue to listen to all of the wonderful, well-researched information on wellness, health and family. Please keep doing what you have always done so well…give us fantastic information on simple answers for healthier families.

  10. I enjoy Tom’s podcast and hadn’t heard of yours. Listening now. Thanks for doing this.

  11. Wow! I was so surprised to see Tom Woods, my favorite historian and libertarian, on the Wellness Mama podcast. I never in a million years would have thought one of my natural mama blogs was a follower of Tom Woods! I listen to his podcast almost every day.

    I have to admit that I quit following many parenting blogs after I had my baby two years ago because I’m trying to stay away from all parenting sites inadvertently making me feel guilty about choices I make. I always try to do things naturally and as responsibly as possible, but sometimes life has other plans (like having my dreams of a natural birth end in a section and not being able to see my baby for two hours after). I’m now going to have to make an exception for this blog since you have shown such judge of character and education.

    For all the misguided people out there, Tom Woods is a libertarian historian. Libertarianism is based on the non-aggression principle. A few of the commenters on this page could serve themselves well to listen to Tom’s podcast to find out what he really thinks. I’m still appalled that one of them called him a neoconservative! I think that person needs to brush up on their definitions…and be a little more open-minded.

  12. Tom Woods AND Katie together on a podcast?! I’m totally geeking out! Two of my favs ? Thanks for thinking outside the box and presenting many topics worth listening to on your show. This homeschool mama appreciates your efforts to challenge and educate us on many subjects. Kudos!

  13. What a pleasant surprise to see Tom on your show! I have been a big follower of Tom for a few years now and was so excited to find out that you seem to be as well! Great episode, great way for both readerships to get exposure to each of your sites.

  14. I love your podcasts-always! And was delighted about the Tom Woods episode. If you want to make the world a better place, ya gotta get real about the world. Keep up presenting a wide range of topics, ideas and guests! No one learns anything new in an echo chamber. Thanks!

  15. Katie, I can appreciate a lot of what Tom had to say and understand your interest in providing resources for homeschooling parents. I personally did not like the political nature of the podcast. There are plenty of other podcasts that are politically charged and if I wanted to listen to a political podcast I would not be listening Wellness Mama. I love what you do and have listened to your podcast for a long time and will continue to listen to all of the wonderful, well-researched information on wellness, health and family. Please keep doing what you have always done so well…give us fantastic information on simple answers for healthier families.

    • Thanks for your input. What’s interesting though is that the episode wasn’t political, it was about thinking critically and teaching your kids to do so, no matter where you stand politically. My goal with the podcast (and all of my articles) is to make people think and question the status quo, not to simply agree with me (or anyone else for that matter). I plan to continue bringing on guest who will get us all our of our comfort zone and force us to confront issues and questions that we might not otherwise do, because that is how learning and change happens. Thanks again for reading/listening!

  16. Hi there!

    I found your website from the Tom Wood’s Podcast (I am a big Tom Woods fan).

    I am so glad he lead me to your website. Like you, I will be homeschooling my daughter, teaching speed reading, and hopefully getting her into coding. I also developed Hashimoto’s after the birth of my daughter, but had underlying autoimmune issues before.

    I will be visiting your website from now on- thank you for all your hard work!

  17. Thank you so much, Katie for this excellent interview! I will definitely be visiting Tom Woods website. Keep on bringing us these interviews that highlight how we can think critically and not be a bunch of lemmings just blindly following the mainstream crowd. We really have to make the effort to discern the truth and not take the easy path of believing everything we’re told via the media.

  18. Really enjoyed this interview. Thanks for giving us something different to think about than your usual topics. I hope you will continue to step outside the box of the topics you usually cover with more interviews like this one.

  19. I loved the interview and was excited to hear how critical thinking is important not just for our health but in how we teach our children. I am a big fan of both you and Tom Woods independently, so it was very exciting to hear you both! I also enjoyed your interview on his show. Thank you for all you share with us!

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