Doubt – the most important thought process

questionmark  So why should you study Science? Some of you will say because you want a career in science, some because you think it will help you achieve your other goals. Some of you don’t want to study science at all, and will stop as soon as you can. Any of these reasons are insufficient.

You should study science for the same reason that you need make sure you have a healthy diet, or to have your vitamins. Science is necessary to fortify your mind, just as vitamins fortify your body. Your body is continuously exposed to various attacks – viruses and infections, injuries and stresses. You protect your body by avoiding threats, and healing injuries. Your mind is also continuously attacked by bad information, confusing memes and outright deceptions – Science helps to provide immunisation against these threats to your mind, and just as you use vitamins (from fresh food or artificial sources such as pills) to protect your body.

Dihydrogen Monoxide is a common chemical that you are exposed to every day. There are a number of dramatic effects as shown in the above link (read the Environmental effects statement), and petitions have been raised to ban it. This is unfortunate, as the following video illustrates:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/yi3erdgVVTw" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

So, how does one become (appropriately) skeptical? You need exposure to various skeptical sources at first to make yourself aware of some of the types of deception and pseudoscientific materials. One good source is Skeptoid, a podcast and website that provides a good introduction to skeptical thought. The current podcast is about “Superjuices” like Goji. Try listening to it. Another good place to start is the Australian Skeptics Society. Remember, the best reaction to a new idea is skepticism first – test the waters before diving in and accepting what you are told!

See you in class!

 

 

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Explore posts in the same categories: General Science, Philosophy

2 Comments on “Doubt – the most important thought process”

  1. Ben Says:

    I’m not sure where I stand with Penn and Teller. Sometimes they seem like they’re more into bashing something than simply presenting an objective view point without any interference from the other side. Apart from that, they seem to (potentially) attack things out of context. For example, I saw an episode in which they attacked a woman who was selling these “Magical Listening Tapes” that were supposed to do various things depending on what was said.

    When they interviewed the woman, they would cut her off every couple of seconds to respond to what she had said (either though Penn speaking or them showing something). They would usually then resume the interview at a different point (sometimes the same) and continue it from there. This really made me wonder if they presented all of what she said, and if not, why they didn’t show it. Was it because they intentionall took it out of context? Was it because it wasn’t relevant?

    I don’t know, but it certainly is amusing to watch them go about their business destroying everything they set out to.

    Oh, and doubt is very important yes.

  2. mrgrichting Says:

    Penn & Teller are intentionally controversial – I wouldn’t reccomend them as a source of scientific or any other sort of advice. However this particular example about the willingness of individuals to sign a petition due to scientific sounding dangers is a good example of the importance of doubt.


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