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Author Topic: The Baloney Detection Kit  (Read 51 times)

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Offline Ken (OP)

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The Baloney Detection Kit
« on: September 21, 2020, 10:50:53 AM »
... I always enjoyed listening to Carl Sagan's take on the world and our Universe and this is one of his better theories or opinions. This is a test that could easily dispel many of our current political and social claims and could help us begin to heal our country and our people.

The Baloney Detection Kit
POCKET WORTHY - Stories to fuel your mind.

Carl Sagan’s rules for critical thinking offer cognitive fortification against propaganda, pseudoscience, and general falsehood.
 


Quote
Carl Sagan (November 9, 1934–December 20, 1996) was many things — a cosmic sage, voracious reader, hopeless romantic, and brilliant philosopher. But above all, he endures as our era’s greatest patron saint of reason and critical thinking, a master of the vital balance between skepticism and openness. In The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (public library) — the same indispensable volume that gave us Sagan’s timeless meditation on science and spirituality, published mere months before his death in 1996 — Sagan shares his secret to upholding the rites of reason, even in the face of society’s most shameless untruths and outrageous propaganda.

“The Fine Art of Baloney Detection,”
 1/   Wherever possible there must be independent confirmation of the “facts.”

 2/   Encourage substantive debate on the evidence by knowledgeable proponents of all points of view.
 
 3/  Arguments from authority carry little weight — “authorities” have made mistakes in the past. They will do so again in the future. Perhaps a better way to say it is that in science there are no authorities; at most, there are experts.

  4/  Spin more than one hypothesis. If there’s something to be explained, think of all the different ways in which it could be explained. Then think of tests by which you might systematically disprove each of the alternatives. What survives, the hypothesis that resists disproof in this Darwinian selection among “multiple working hypotheses,” has a much better chance of being the right answer than if you had simply run with the first idea that caught your fancy.

  5/  Try not to get overly attached to a hypothesis just because it’s yours. It’s only a way station in the pursuit of knowledge. Ask yourself why you like the idea. Compare it fairly with the alternatives. See if you can find reasons for rejecting it. If you don’t, others will.

  6/  Quantify. If whatever it is you’re explaining has some measure, some numerical quantity attached to it, you’ll be much better able to discriminate among competing hypotheses. What is vague and qualitative is open to many explanations. Of course there are truths to be sought in the many qualitative issues we are obliged to confront, but finding them is more challenging.

  7/  If there’s a chain of argument, every link in the chain must work (including the premise) — not just most of them.

  8/  Occam’s Razor. This convenient rule-of-thumb urges us when faced with two hypotheses that explain the data equally well to choose the simpler.

  9/  Always ask whether the hypothesis can be, at least in principle, falsified. Propositions that are untestable, unfalsifiable are not worth much. Consider the grand idea that our Universe and everything in it is just an elementary particle — an electron, say — in a much bigger Cosmos. But if we can never acquire information from outside our Universe, is not the idea incapable of disproof? You must be able to check assertions out. Inveterate skeptics must be given the chance to follow your reasoning, to duplicate your experiments and see if they get the same result.
" If everything seems under control, you’re not going fast enough." - Mario Andretti
Yesterday When I was Young.

Offline Skhilled

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Re: The Baloney Detection Kit
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2020, 07:56:46 AM »
I remember reading about this. Cool!