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Monday, June 4, 2018

Most Millennials Faked Out by Fake News

At a time when “fake news” and online deception are topics of national debate, a majority of 1,000 college students and recent workforce entrants, aged 18-31, were unable to pass a basic, nine-question test of their digital literacy and critical-thinking ability.

The second-annual State of Critical Thinking survey commissioned by MindEdge Inc., a producer of online courses, and conducted by ResearchNow, found that only 19% of its millennial participants earned an “A” by answering eight or nine of the questions correctly, down from 24% in the inaugural 2017 survey. More than half couldn’t answer more than five questions correctly, earning a failing grade.

This year’s results were also worse in every segment, whether broken out by age, gender, or school type. For instance, in 2017 15% of students at two-year colleges got eight to nine answers correct, but that fell to just 9% in 2018. At four-year-plus colleges, 27% answered eight to nine questions correctly in 2017, but only 22% scored that well this year.

Contrary to their test results, these “digital native” respondents expressed an unwarranted confidence in their own capacity for critical thinking. Almost 60% said they were very confident in their soft skills and 40%—up five points from 2017—claimed to be very confident in their ability to see through bogus online content. At the same time, just 57% of participants said they believe their peers and colleagues are adept at critical thinking.

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