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Believing science isn’t the same as being scientific

Scientific reasoning, as I understand it, is the antithesis of blind faith in authority.

A scientifically minded thinker investigates things for himself and rarely, if ever, settles important questions by taking someone’s word for it.

A scientist understands the age old adage that sincerity is not a substitute for truth; that someone’s honest belief in an idea doesn’t make the idea correct.

To be scientific, one must be willing to follow the evidence wherever it leads-even if the hard data leads one in the opposite direction of his cherished biases.

Now that I’ve spelled out all the obvious stuff about science, here’s the most important, and frequently overlooked, component of scientific reasoning:

Having scientific beliefs isn’t the same as thinking scientifically about the beliefs you have.

At the heart of science, is the assertion of one’s right and responsibility to question, experiment, and scrutinize things for himself.

Placing unquestioned faith in the pronouncements of scientists is just a fancier, smarter sounding version of the blind faith game.

If you’re not looking at the evidence for yourself, in spite of the fact that your beliefs are approved by the scientific community, then you’re not practicing science; you’re practicing blind faith in the judgments made by scientists.

Don’t just believe in science. Be scientific.

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  1. It’s not that this isn’t true, but there is only so much time in the world. I settle for answering this question of scientists and their claims “How do they know what they know”. If it looks like they pulled their claims out of their ass, or otherwise can’t otherwise support them, or most tellingly, dismiss contrary data, I reject the claims (Homeopathy for example). If it looks like it’s been well vetted and verified I accept the claims provisionally, but I don’t kid myself that I fully checked, analysed and tested all the data, and accept I’m not doing science, but as I said to start with there’s only so much time in the world.

    P.S. Thank you for this blog, I do value listening to ideas from thoughtful people.

  2. Agreed, T.K. And the point made above by Antonio is also worth noting. That most people don’t have the time or inclination to validate what passes for “science.” But the obvious claims are easy to dismiss. It’s the claims that seem so scientific that should at least call on our healthy skepticism. Often people will believe and repeat, as fact, what they hear from the media and politicians and scientists. A majority is not a standard of truth. Nor is truth a popularity contest. Nor is authoritarianism.

    And it’s important to note that some of our modern science is infused with political correctness, not hard data.

    So your main issue of “believing science is not the same as being scientific” is crucial. To “follow the evidence.” An obvious example is the global warming alarmists. Based on flawed premises, faulty computer models and blending of fact with fiction the hard core proponents sound so scientific. And beneath this is an over-reverence
    for nature and a contempt for man. Erase our carbon footprint? Like we were never here?

    Our own Canadian, Dr. David Suzuki, a long time diehard alarmist, will not tolerate any disagreement on this subject. He has called for the dismissal of and denial of any tenure for any scientist who doesn’t agree with him. And many Canadian and U.S. proponents agree with this bullying. Medieval.

    At least we can withdraw our sanction and withhold our support by simply saying “I don’t know if this is true so
    I’m not jumping on this bandwagon.” Otherwise, if we are going to believe and repeat the popular claims of science then it does encumber us to do the research.

    As usual, very good post.

    1. Excellent post! So true to be so politically correct and accept “scientists ” facts that one does not question who these “scientists” are and what their agenda is.

  3. So very true. It is not necessary to believe that 2+2=4 once you have analysed the evidence for yourself. If you have not analysed the evidence yourself the best you can say is that it is probably true.

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