March 30 – Is it Possible to Read and View Critically Anymore?

March 30, 2023

Do you remember when most of us were not yet on social media? Do you remember when most of the world shared content through forwarded emails? In 2008, I got so tired of people forwarding bogus and deceitful content that I wrote a letter to the editor of our local paper:  “Let’s All Be Critics” it was called. I reread it recently, and it almost sounds quaint:

If we believed all the e-mails over the years, we’d be waiting for $10,000 from Bill Gates, printing $50 gift certificates from Applebee’s, and watching for other unexpected windfalls. Don’t you just want to shout, “C’mon, read critically before you forward those emails!”?

My 2008 Letter to the Editor asked people to read critically.

In a short 15 years, technology may have surpassed our ability to read and view critically.

It has become Tom Cruise deep fakes:

AI photos of Donald Trump being arrested,

and bots writing content better than a lot of American citizens can write.

These are all here now. Will they just keep getting better and harder to recognize the deceit? I wonder if good will come of the technology capabilities.

Is it possible to read and view critically anymore? What will it be like in 15 more years?


I am participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge: A slice a day for all of March. Thank you, Two Writing Teachers!

13 thoughts on “March 30 – Is it Possible to Read and View Critically Anymore?

  1. Denise,
    I think the answer to that question depends on how we as a collective handle the technology you named. I read an interesting article in the Intercept Sunday about the ethical dilemma of treating AI as though it’s human, i.e. as though it can do human tasks such as writing as well as or better than humans. Most interesting was an analysis of the archetypal metaphor comparing the brain to a computer and the way that metaphor dehumanizes and others us. It’s no secret to you that I found the AI poetry prompt troubling, but I found the way many embraced it most troubling. If we are to continue functioning as humans who can think and reason, we cannot outsource our brain power to bots.

    1. Glenda, can you share a link to the Intercept article. I wasn’t able to find it. I do need to read more to understand this. I appreciate your commitment to “…not outsource our brain power to bots.” I want to be more hopeful.

  2. Denise, I am very afraid of the direction we are heading. Did you hear or read the news yesterday in which Elon Musk, Andrew Yang, and others were warning others about AI production? I’m in awe when I consider all that has changed since the invention of computers, email, smart phones, etc.

  3. What a fascinating letter to reread 15 years later! Yes, we are spiraling towards some very scary scenarios…all these deep fakes, these limits on free press, it is terrifying. It is hard to keep ‘in front’ of all the technological changes/advances. My sons had a middle school course on Media Literacy – I wonder sometimes what that course looks like now, with all these fakes. How challenging this is! Thank you for exploring this topic, Denise.

  4. What a thought-provoking post! I remember forwarded chain emails…I hated them! It’s unreal how technology can make us question what is real and fake.

  5. Denise, I debated writing today about the letter about 1,000 AI experts have signed asking for a moratorium on AI development. I read the Newsweek article among others. What you are bemoaning, the disappearance of anything true, is exactly what one of the signers was saying. Trust will become obsolete.

  6. As always, you give us so much to think about. It is scary how much click bait is out there. It is even scarier to think of our younger generations, all vulnerable to these deceitful message before even having the brain development to spot what is real and what isn’t. As adults receiving emails, we were better equipped to weed out fact from fiction. I am not sure about our kids, who are still learning and practicing that skill.

  7. So much food for thought in this post. Technology is advancing so quickly it is hard to stop and think (much less read) critically. You leave us with haunting questions that we all should consider critically.

  8. Denise, what an interesting blog post! You raise all kinds of great points, and this is what scares me not only for those of us who are in a place in life to sort out all the smoke and mirrors with some success – – but especially for those who are aging and lose the ability to sort the basic facts from the tricks. I understand why the sandwich generation steps in and takes over their parents’ affairs and helps them make sense of things.

  9. You are right- so scary to consider that we won’t even be capable of critically interpreting what we see. This coupled with the speed misinformation can travel. And matched with a level of weaponry never before seen in this country. I shudder to think what the Trump arrest fakes might set off. Thank you for i your thoughtful reflection. And keep writing those letters1

  10. It really is a scary situation and I wonder how current students will handle it into their future. Thanks for raising your concerns and reminding us that it is a very real issue when you can’t distinguish between what is truth and what is deception and why people want to head down such a chaotic path.

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