Sunday, July 26, 2009

What should you believe in? Shermers Baloney detection kit

When someone makes a claim, how do you decide whether to believe in that or not? If you believe everything anyone has told you, then you will soon have many many contradictory beliefs. Even if you only listen to people around you, you will still get contradictory information - all claims cannot be true. So how do you decide who to believe in?

Micheal Shermer, a famous sceptic suggests that we ask ourselves the following questions when we decide whether to believe in something. Why should you trust Shermer? Don't! You should question him just like everyone else, he is certainly a man with an agenda, so listen to someone who does not agree with Shermer and decide for yourself. Anyway here is what Shermer suggests you ask yourself when you hear a claim.

  1. How reliable is the source?
  2. Does the source often make similar claims?
  3. Has the claim been confirmed elsewhere?
  4. Does the claim fit with the way the world works?
  5. Has anyone tried to falsify the claim?
  6. What does the majority of the evidence point to?
  7. Is the source basing their claim on science?
  8. Is there positive evidence in favour of the theory (or is it only negative evidence)?
  9. Does the new theory account for as many phenomenon as the old theory?
  10. Are personal beliefs or ideologies drive the claim?


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prissy said...

On the subject of skepticism - wikipidia definitions of-groupthink -and -information cascades- are interesting.

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