Before reading, I recommend that you read these two short essays first:
Ask questions even when a seemingly preposterous idea is posed.
Say for example that person A proposes a flat Earth theory to person B. If person B immediately begins to explain why that claim is incorrect, then that person—yes, person B—is the one failing to be open minded and scientific! While it seems preposterous, that’s not the point.
Instead, it’s only reasonable to respond by asking “What lead you to believe that?” And if they explain, and if you truly understand what they say, only then is it reasonable to form an opinion about the idea (and possibly the person proposing it).
Asking questions— not merely rejecting seemingly preposterous ideas— is the nature of true skepticism. Skepticism in science is not only for new ideas, but for your own current beliefs. Skepticism goes both ways!
Last of all, heed the fact that all pseudoscientific ideas go against the current paradigm— But so do all breakthrough ideas!—
“You mean to tell me the stars and planets don’t orbit the Earth?
In the fire you go!”
Because we risk throwing out all breakthrough ideas if we throw out all of the merely questionable ideas, the way to cut through false claims isn’t by dismissing them, it’s by asking questions.
Drawing © Ariana Dyer.
Posted 2020 August 2, last updated 2021 March 11.
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