Why People Believe - Communicating Science Week 2 Handout...

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Communicating Science Week 2 Handout From  “Why People Believe Weird Things” , by Michael Shermer Common Problems in Scientific Thinking 1. Prior Theory Influences Observations Our perceptions of reality are influenced by the theories framing our examination of  it.   2. The Observer Changes the Observed The act of studying an event can change it. 3. Equipment Constructs Results The equipment in an experiment often affects the results.  Common Problems in Pseudoscientific Thinking 4. Anecdotes Do Not Make a Science Without corroborative evidence from other sources, or physical proof of some sort,  ten anecdotes are no better than one, and one hundred anecdotes are no better than  ten. 5. Scientific Language Does Not Make a Science Dressing up a belief system in the trappings of science by using scientific language  and jargon means nothing without evidence, experimental testing, and corroboration.  6. Bold Statements Do Not Make Claims True Something is probably pseudoscientific if enormous claims are made for its power  and veracity, but supportive evidence is as scarce as hen’s teeth. 7. Heresy Does Not Equal Correctness Just because it is controversial and new (like Galileo’s ideas) doesn’t mean it is true. 8. Burden of Proof The person making the extraordinary claim has the burden of proving to the experts  and to the community at large that his or her idea has more validity than the currently  accepted idea.
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  • Spring '08
  • Barakos
  • University of California, Science Session Handout

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