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The Sagan Standard: Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence - Effectiviology

https://effectiviology.com/sagan-standard-extraordinary-claims-require-extraordinary-evidence/

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The Sagan Standard: Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence - Effectiviology

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The Sagan Standard

The Sagan Standard

The Sagan standard is related to astronomer Carl Sagan, who stated that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” (a dictum abbreviated as ECREE).

This means that the more unlikely a certain claim is, given existing evidence on the matter, the greater the standard of proof that is expected of it.

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Ordinary And Extraordinary Claims

Based on the Sagan standard, if someone claims that they came across a unicorn during they commute, they would be expected to brig stronger evidence in order to verify that claim than if they claimed that they came across a horse.

This happens because there is significant evidence for the existence of horses, but no relevant evidence to support the existence of unicorns, which makes the latter claim extraordinary.

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The Concept Of Extraordinary Claims

  • Instead of viewing claims as either ordinary or extraordinary, it’s better to view them as ranging between these two ends of the spectrum, based on how likely they are given everything that is known on the subject.
  • It can be difficult to define the exact threshold on the ordinary-extraordinary spectrum that a certain claim needs to cross before it’s considered extraordinary, it’s generally preferable to focus on how extraordinary a claim is instead, and to expect a stand of proof that matches that degree of extraordinariness.
  • A claim should generally not be viewed as extraordinary simply because it’s novel, but rather because it contradicts existing evidence.

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The Concept Of Extraordinary Evidence

There is no clear separation between what is ‘ordinary’ evidence and what is ‘extraordinary’ evidence; the answer is in most cases subjective, though it should nevertheless be based on sound reasoning.

However, it is possible to argue in favor or against the extraordinariness of evidence, based on its quantity and quality, and based on the relevant standards that apply to the subject being discussed.

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Don't Simply Ignore Extraordinarily Claims

Overall, the concept of ECREE does not mean that claims that contradict the current scientific consensus should always be ignored, or that claims that support the consensus should be automatically accepted. Rather, ECREE simply suggests that the likelihood that a certain claim is true, based on preexisting knowledge, should be taken into account when determining how much evidence is needed in order to verify it.

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How To Implement The Sagan Standard

The more unlikely a claim is, the more supporting substantial the evidence that you should require before accepting it as true.

When presented with a certain claim, you should expect the strength of evidence that is used to support it to be proportional to how unlikely that claim is, based on prior information.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

When Studies Are Untrustworthy

When Studies Are Untrustworthy

Many layers of uncertainty along with thinking errors of scientists (blind spots) make the research or evidence untrustworthy about 42 percent of the time, according to a study.

“Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”

“Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”

Advice For Reading Scientific Studies

When we read scientific studies, it helps to keep in mind the following:

  1. Scientists are prone to error just like everyone else.
  2. Single source claims are dubious.
  3. There is a lot we don’t know.
  4. We should not be biased towards a particular outcome.
  5. Independent tests of the findings can be done if possible.
  6. Proof of something does not mean it is true, and a lack of proof does not mean it is false.

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The double standard

The double standard

The double standard is a principle or policy that is applied in a different way to similar things, with no legitimate explanation. Thus, a double standard happens when two or more ...

Double standard examples

  • A person who judges and criticizes another person for doing something, even though this person does that very same thing repeatedly and doesn’t see an issue with it when they’re the ones doing it.
  • Treating similar employees differently when they do the same thing, by punishing one and rewarding the other, even though there is no proper, valid reason.

Why double standards happen

  • Using double standards intentionally involves an informed, conscious decision to do so and happens mostly when a person thinks that the double standards could help them achieve some goal (helping someone that they favor, hurting someone that they dislike etc.)
  • Using double standards unintentionally means a person fails to acknowledge the double standard, and is generally driven by some motivation, often emotional in nature.

Conspiracy Theories

Conspiracy Theories

In the earlier times, conspiracy theories were a convenient way to cover up the inadequacies of the government, and putting a set of helpless people as a scapegoat, cloaking the misdeeds or mismana...

We Love A Good Story

The organic and unpredictable nature of conspiracy theories had led many researchers to investigate the cause of the phenomenon.

  • Successful conspiracy theories always tend to invent a great villain, have a backdrop or a backstory, and a morality lesson that can be easily understood by most.
  • Great stories are by nature more magnetic and appealing than the truth.
  • Human beings think and understand in stories. For thousands of years, fairy tales, legends, anecdotes and mysteries have helped our brains make sense of the world.

Collective Hysteria

Every society has its own, unique anxieties and obsessions, and the conspiracy theories that gain good mileage are the ones that tap into these primal fears.

Example: Many people fear vaccination of the children due to fears that the mass drive to vaccinate such a large population has some ulterior motive, like a mass medical experiment. The dodgy past record of the health care system, and the fact that the vaccination is free of charge, of course, adds fuel to the fire.