Open-mindedness and Skepticism: Necessities of Knowledge

Change of plans. Scott, my artist friend has had a rough week having to deal with people who believe stupid things. He doesn’t mind people believing in ghosts, alien visitations, or anything that normal reasonable people wouldn’t believe. It’s pseudoscience that really gets him, like thoughts change water crystals, or his pet peeve, homeopathy. He hates these, and rightly so, because they distort people’s views on real science and takes away their trust in it. He doesn’t really like people who are too skeptical either. All of this reminds me of a quote by Carl Sagan from this article:

“It seems to me what is called for is an exquisite balance between two conflicting needs: the most skeptical scrutiny of all hypotheses that are served up to us and at the same time a great openness to new ideas … If you are only skeptical, then no new ideas make it through to you … On the other hand, if you are open to the point of gullibility and have not an ounce of skeptical sense in you, then you cannot distinguish the useful ideas from the worthless ones.”

There are specific rules for science to work. Pseudoscience ignores those rules. Just because a “scientist” says something doesn’t make it true. But just because it sounds crazy doesn’t make it false.

I’ll leave you with another Sagan quote. A lot of pseudo-scientists get the idea that they’re some kind of misunderstood genius. They’re not.

“The fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.” from Broca’s Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science

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~ by lukebringer on July 9, 2012.

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