I was intrigued by this news item.
One of President Donald Trump’s most common responses to intelligence briefings is to doubt what he’s being told, former Deputy Director of Intelligence Susan Gordon said Tuesday.
Gordon, an intelligence veteran of more than 30 years, said Monday that Trump had two typical responses to briefings.
“One, ‘I don’t think that’s true,'” Gordon told the Women’s Foreign Policy Group.
“The one is ‘I’m not sure I believe that,'” Gordon continued, “and the other is the second order and third order effects. ‘Why is that true? Why are we there? Why is this what you believe? Why do we do that?’ Those sorts of things.”
The article implied that Trump was asking these questions because he had got information from other sources that he liked and trusted more that went counter what the intelligence briefers were telling him.
In my own teaching of science, I had two goals: (1) to enable students to sufficiently understand (not necessarily believe) the scientific consensus on the topic we were learning so that they could use it to solve problems; and (2) to get in the habit of reflexively asking themselves the questions: What do I believe? Why do I believe it? What is the evidence for it? What is the counter-evidence against it?
I felt that these two things enabled them to function is the world of science as well as building up necessary critical thinking skills that would stand them in good stead in all areas of their lives.
So I cannot fault Trump for asking the intelligence officials such questions. Of course, it is not clear if he was actually seeking information in order to make better judgments or whether he was merely finding a way to reject conclusions he did not find congenial. Given what we know about him, the latter is likely but still the asking of such questions is a good thing.