Critical thinking: how we encourage informed decision making
How we got to participate in That’s a Claim, project with a key role in helping people to make better health decisions.
One of the reasons that Fake News and unsubstantiated claims (not only in health) spread easily is because, unfortunately, we are either not prepared or do not see the importance of thinking critically about these affirmations, their quality and trustworthiness. This happens on every level of the social sphere, from policymakers and authorities to the mass public.
In Epistemonikos we thrive to promote critical thinking, by providing individuals and institutions with the necessary evidence to evaluate the information correctly and, thus, make informed decisions regarding their health and well-being.
With this in mind, we became partners of the Informed Health Choices (IHC) project, which develops, tests and evaluates the scaling and effectiveness of different learning resources, to enable critical thinking in different groups of people, and support their decision making in health with better information.
The project began as a pilot for children, with a study conducted by the IHC group where 120 schools and more than 10,000 children in Uganda were evaluated. The study showed that the educational resources used improved the ability of children (between 10 and 12 years old) to apply concepts of evaluation of claims in health. These concepts include, for example, that personal experiences are not enough for claims about effects of a particular treatment, or that «small» studies can be misleading.
The study showed that 69% of the children who were taught this set of 12 Key Concepts, succeeded in the test to measure their critical thinking skills when evaluating claims and making decisions. On the other hand, only 27% succeeded in the group of children who did not receive this information. The results showed that, with the right tools, critical thinking can be encouraged and people can be equipped to assess health claims and make informed decisions about different situations that will affect their quality of life.
That’s a claim
These results also show the great importance of further development and specialization of these Key Concepts presented in the pilot, which proved to be fundamental when seeking to make informed decisions.
Considering this, from IHC comes That’s a Claim, the first project associated with this initiative, composed of a web platform where the Key Concepts are organized in levels and modes of evaluation. In addition, they can be adapted to different environments and contexts, as well as for different audiences and languages. In Epistemonikos Foundation we were very interested in working with this web project, where we carried out the development of the platform.
Our Chairman, Dr Gabriel Rada, explains that “in order to protect and strengthen the health of the population, it is essential to encourage the development of critical thinking among people, to promote the questioning based on evidence and resources that allow for the evaluation of the information that people are being bombarded with every day. That’s a Claim and the IHC project are a very important part of this goal and we are very proud to be part of this initiative”.
Our team worked according to the project proposed for this tool by IHC, where different experts designed the information and resources that the platform delivers. Today, this project becomes a tremendously useful resource, not only for children but for all who want to assess on their own the reliability of health claims (and other subjects), as well as the trustworthiness and quality of the evidence according to the different Key Concepts designed for that.
1. Key concepts for making informed choices – Nature International Journal of Science, 2019.