Thursday, September 24, 2009

Scientific Illiteracy! (RUN!)


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In this day and age (it could be argued for any day and age), an ability to think critically is exceedingly important.
Being able to think critically can save one headaches in paying bills for un-needed items that promise to lengthen your penis, to save you panic on reading the latest alarmist news stories, and could even save your life. Heck, one could propose that critical thinking is the entrance exam and the placement exam for life.

Although this blog is about scientific illiteracy, what is at the heart of matter is actually the ability to think critically.

You see, many people think that they need to know something about science in order to understand and judge the validity of a statement that is couched in scientific terms.
Nothing can be further from the truth.

You don't need to know the periodic table of elements, or Newtons laws, or how electricity "works" in order to question what you read, see and hear. Rather, you simply need to acquire and become facile in the use of a few simple tools.

This blog will introduce the reader to those essential tools, and through discussions on current events, give readers a chance to apply those tools in deciding for themselves how to let the promises of con artists, swindlers, or the well meaning uninformed affect their daily lives.

Of course, being a physicist means that science is a subject near and dear to me. I will be discussing science. I will be using the scientific method in my discussions. But know that many of the socio-political issues discussed, even if they are rooted in science, can still be tackled using critical thinking skills.

By the way, the scientific method is one of the tools you will soon have at your disposal. Don't let the word "scientific" scare you, because it is not technical, or abstract, or even very hard, but simply a recipie if you will... a prescription for organizing the questions you ask and evaluating the answers you get.

Finally, a very important thing about critical thinking should be noted:

Thinking critically about a topic does not guarantee that your conclusions are right.

P.S.  How cool is it that critical thinking 101 is a course you can take again for credit?



 * Image used without permission. Located at: http://www.sciteam.ubc.ca/~sciteam/w/images/Critical_thinking.jpg

2 comments:

  1. Thats the key point....you dont have to be a scientist or even a science student to think scientifically ...you just have to be a human being with a common sense.

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  2. And a willingness to use common sense! ;)

    ReplyDelete