During the last three years, I have surveyed around 600 students and found some depressing trends. Approximately half of these students believe they have dreams that predict the future. Half believe in ghosts. A third of them believe aliens already visit our planet. A third believe that AIDS is a man-made disease created to destroy specific social groups. A third believe that the 1969 moon landing never happened. And a third believe that Princess Diana was assassinated by the royal family. Importantly, it’s not the same third that believes all these things. There is not a consistently gullible group that believes every wacky thing. Rather, the same student will be utterly dogmatic about one strange theory, but dismissive and disdainful about another.
There appears to be a two-step breakdown in critical thinking. Unlimited information, without logical training, leads to a crude form of skepticism in students. Everything is doubtful and everything is possible. Since that state of suspended commitment is not tenable, it is usually followed by an almost arbitrary dogmatism.