Critical thinking is one of many vital skills that learners must develop in order to successfully examine research, analyze data, and complete a dissertation. Consider the characteristics and practices associated with the skill of critical thinking. Which of these are more or less beneficial or important than others? How does synthesis integrate into your view of critical thinking?
Twenty-five years ago, Michel J. Crozier, Samuel P. Huntington, and Joji Watanuki identified a “crisis of democracy” which painted the “bleak future for … government” as an image of “the disintegration of civil order, the breakdown of social discipline, the debility of leaders, and the alienation of citizens” (Crozier 2). While this vision of the demise of democracy appears extreme, there has been a dramatic drop in the public’s trust in politicians and political parties in recent years which has resulted in a public disenchantment with the government. A growing scepticism among the British public has reversed the traditional deference to political elites, and voters are quick to voice their opinions on policy and politicians alike. The growing discontent with the negativity of political discourse, and a lack of confidence in the efficacy of the government suggests that voter disengagement and disenchantment is a threat to the stability of the government, and politicians must take note and reconnect with their public. Although many are quick to blame the apathy of voters or the sensationalist media on voter scepticism, research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has found that charges of misconduct against individual politicians are responsible for the decline in trust in the government and politicians (Denholm). Voter apathy is a result of the growing perceptions of scandal amongst the elite members of all the main political parties, resulting in a disinterest in politics in general and a negative estimation of politicians themselves. In response to this growing mistrust, a series of Parliamentary committees in the 1990s examined issues of political corruption, ethics, and abuse of campaign finance regulations. The committees found that perceptions of politicians as untrustworthy and self-interested derive in part from gossip regarding individual members of the elite, which raises public uneasiness about the standards of behaviour of the political elite. The Committee on Standards in Public Life, established by the Prime Minister in 1994, is evidence itself of the mounting concerns of the public. The introduction to the Committee’s first report states: We can say that conduct in public life is more rigorously scrutinised than it was in the past, that the standards which the public demands remains high, and that the great majority of people in public life meet those high standards. But there are weaknesses in the procedures for maintaining and enforcing those standards. As a result people in public life are not always as clear as they should be about where the boundaries of acceptable conduct lie. This we regards as the principle reason for public disquiet (Whetnall). The decline in trust and the corresponding drop in voter activity is not due to long-term social forces, but to recent political affairs such as allegations of sleaze in the early Nineties. However, it is impossible to pinpoint recent political scandals as the sole cause of the drop in the public’s trust of politicians. There is the perceived lack of difference in the major political parties after the general election of 1997, which contributed to lower voter turnout and general apathy. Giddens (1998) has argued that contemporary Britain requires a politics free from sharp ideological division and adversarial conflict as a response to global trends such as globa>GET ANSWER