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“In so far as a (scientific) statement speaks about reality, it must be falsifiable; and in so far as it is not falsifiable, it does not speak about reality.”
In the middle of the 20th century, philosopher and professor Karl Popper found himself mystified by the beliefs and methods of the otherwise intelligent and rational people around him.
“I found that those of my friends who were admirers of Marx, Freud, and Adler were impres...
That last sentence should ring some alarm bells for many readers — it’s a very simple description of confirmation bias. Basically, when you gain a perspective or theory, you tend to interpret everything as confirming that idea. Whatever seems to contradict it is tossed aside or somehow co...
As a way to cure this ill of self-confirming theories and belief systems, Popper came up with what is now called falsificationism: the idea that a theory or belief system can only be scientific if it clearly lays out what specific evidence would prove it wrong. ...
Adopting an attitude of falsifiability does a few key things:
Our minds tend to run headlong toward safety and comfort. This is true with regards to physical safety and comfort —but it’s also true of intellectual safety and certainty. If we feel like we know something for sure — like we have a firm grasp of it — we want to hold on to that f...
The falsifiability mindset is all about thinking through the implications of beliefs, judgments, and decisions. It’s about curbing your craving for certainty. Adopting this mindset is as easy as picking up a simple practice.
For the decision that you’re making, take...
That left side could be anything. It could be something personal and low-stakes, like “I should buy the new iPhone model” or something more substantial, like “global warming is the result of human industrial waste interacting with the atmosphere”.
The right side ...
Adopting the falsification mindset is simple. Like any exercise in thinking, it helps if you write it out, but that’s not totally necessary.
Adopting the falsification mindset can be a game changer for an important life decision. But it also works for smaller beliefs and judgments.
Just ask yourself how you could be proven wrong — about any old belief you have. Are you researching a big purchase? If so, what dis...
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