How scientists trick themselves (and how they can prevent it)

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You think this is fun in science, you should see how financial reporters operate. They always have a handy explanation for even the tiniest random fluctuation, and it most often happens to support their political affiliation. In 2008, for example, Mr. Obama was hard at work sabotaging financial markets; but strong performance ever since then is unrelated to anything in Washington.




Welcome to dizzy @doctorow, now quit classin’ up the place and make some fish puns.


Of course, while Scientists can trick themselves, the fact that this is known, this is seen as a problem, that people are actively looking for ways to correct the biases that still exist is the reason why the scientific method is overwhelmingly the most successful way we have of understanding the universe.

If only we could introduce such a level of self-criticism, requirement for evidence, and questioning of rhetorical truths in other areas of human existence. But too many people prefer unfounded certainty over rigorous doubt.

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Is this anything like when some alarmists run around screaming ‘terrorism’ to describe a small number of arsons rather than wait for a suspected to be arrested? I hate it when that happens.

In daily life, my “devil’s advocacy” often starts with two very simply applied tests for bias:

  • Does the position appear to be exclusive to humans?
  • Does the position appear to be exclusive to living things generally?

These can counter the overwhelming tendency of people to project human instinct upon other living things, and the world at large. But people tend to hate it, because it explains away nearly all of the assumptions people base their lives and societies upon.

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