Are you old enough to remember astronomer Carl Sagan? A very perceptive guy, to be sure (600 published papers, 20 books, TV series .... )
And, here is some Carl Sagan advice which, in my opinion, nails it for the decision makers among us*
- Seek independent facts. Remember, a fact is a cause supported by sensed evidence and should be independently verified by you before it can be deemed legitimate. If you cannot find sensed evidence of causal relationships you should be skeptical.
- Welcome open debate on all points of view. Suspend judgment about the event or claim until all cause paths have been pursued to your satisfaction
- Always challenge authority. Ask to be educated. Ask the expert how they came to know what they know. If they cannot explain it to your satisfaction using evidence-based causal relationships then be very skeptical.
- Consider more than one hypothesis. The difference between a genius and a normal person is that when asked to solve a problem the genius doesn’t look for the right answer, he or she looks for how many possible solutions he or she can find.
- Don’t defend a position because it is yours. All ideas are prototypical because there is no way we can really know all the causes. Seek to understand before seeking to be understood.
- Try to quantify what you think you know. Can you put numbers to it?
- Show the numbers
- Do the math
If there is a chain of causes presented, every link must work. Verify that the chain of causes meets the advanced logic checks defined above and that the causes are sufficient in and of themselves. Use Occam’s razor to decide between two hypothesis; If two explanations appear to be equally viable, choose the simpler one if you must. Nature loves simplicity. Try to prove your hypothesis wrong. Every truth is prototypical and the purpose of science is to disprove that which we think we know. Use carefully designed experiments to test all hypotheses. In other words, be sure the experiment, the observations, and the hypothesis are all internally consistent.
*As shamefully taken from HerdingCats
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