Critical Thinking Challenge: Join the WikiLeaks Debate

First question:  Were you scared to click on this leak? According to a State Official speaking to students at Columbia University, you should be!  An email sent to students from the University of Career Services center, said you should avoid linking to or commenting on anything regarding WikiLeaks if you ever plan to apply for a job in the federal government.

The WikiLeaks scandal continues to dominate headlines and create a great opportunity for a critical thinking debate.  Much like our Open Debate on TSA Policies, we’d like to open a debate on this issues surrounding the WikiLeaks issue.

When discussing WikiLeaks, all sorts of emotional issues come to the surface: censorship, freedom, privacy, protection, theft, treason, espionage, conspiracy theories, etc.  Each of these make critical thinking more difficult.

A good friend made a great point about how WikiLeaks has made her question her own assumptions:  “I have always trusted that what the government does in private is for my own protection.  Now I’m recognizing that my assumption may be incorrect.”

Others find it difficult to Draw a Conclusion on this sensitive issue.  On one hand, you may dislike any information being leaked that affects the safety of our military, but information about back-room deals between government officials and banking institutions seems like it should be exposed.  How do we define which leaked information is acceptable?

Then, who gets punished (if anyone)? The person who stole the documents?  The person who published it?  The news organizations that keep repeating the published documents?  Do you support freedom of speech/press or censorship?

Should the personal thoughts someone publishes on a social media site affect his/her future employment prospects?

What should be done about Julian Assange, who has instructed his followers to broadcast an additional set of sensitive documents if he is murdered?  Would you rather be a company that continues to house his bank account or shut down his financial assets and fear being hacked by Julian Assange’s followers?

What would you do if your 16-year old was arrested for hacking on behalf of WikiLeaks?

Should Facebook and Twitter censor WikiLeaks links and accounts?

What would you do if you were President of the United States?

There are so many questions with unclear answers.  Each question challenges our critical thinking skills as it highlights our assumptions, emotions, opinions, values, beliefs, etc.

So, my question is, do you have a clear answer for any of the questions above? If so, please comment and explain your thought process.

Editor’s Note: Breanne Harris is the Solutions Architect for Pearson TalentLens.  She works with customers to design selection and development plans that incorporate critical thinking assessments and training.  She has a Master’s degree in Organizational Psychology and has experience in recruiting, training, and HR consulting.  She is the chief blogger for Critical Thinkers and occasionally posts at ThinkWatson.  Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter for more of her thoughts.

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