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5 Reasons It's So Hard To Think Like A Scientist

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https://digest.bps.org.uk/2017/06/20/5-reasons-its-so-hard-to-think-like-a-scientist/

digest.bps.org.uk

5 Reasons It's So Hard To Think Like A Scientist
Thinking like a scientist is really hard, even for scientists. It requires putting aside your own prior beliefs, evaluating the quality and meaning of the evidence before you, and weighing it in the context of earlier findings. But parking your own agenda and staying objective is not the human way.

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We’re swayed by anecdotes

We’re swayed by anecdotes
Most of us are influenced more powerfully by personal testimony from a single person than by impersonal ratings or outcomes averaged across many people. This is the power of anecdote to dull our criti...

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We’re overconfident

We overestimate our comprehension of the science. 

Part of the problem seems to be that we infer our understanding of scientific text based on how well we have comprehended the langua...

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We’re seduced by graphs

It doesn’t take a lot to dazzle the average newspaper or magazine reader using the superficial props of science, be that formulas, graphics or jargon. 

One study found that participants ...

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Being smart isn’t enough

Even expert researchers suffer from the human foibles that undermine scientific thinking. 

This is why the open science revolution occurring in psychology is so important: wh...

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The backfire effect

Is a cognitive bias and it means that showing people evidence which proves that they are wrong is often ineffective, and can actually end up backfiring, by causing them to support their o...

Why the backfire effect appears

People experience  as a result of the process that they go through when they encounter information that contradicts their preexisting beliefs.

When people argue strongly enough against unwelcome information, they end up, in their mind, with more arguments that support their original stance.

Reducing other people’s backfire effect

If you’re trying to explain to someone the issues with their stance, you can mitigate the backfire effect by presenting new information in a way that encourages the other person to consider and internalize that information, instead of rejecting it outright.

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Healthy skepticism

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Find out who is making the claim

When you encounter a new claim, look for conflicts of interest. Ask: Do they stand to profit from what they say? Are they affiliated with an organization that could be swaying them? Other questions to consider: What makes the writer or speaker qualified to comment on the topic? What statements have they made in the past?

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Pursue what appears to be a paradox

It will force you to reexamine the full body of evidence with new eyes.

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Spot contradictions and novel patterns

Go on cross-disciplinary research expeditions.

By reading and translating the literature in fields outside your own, the full body of evidence surrounding a problem become apparent. 

Focus on data and methods

Ignore the author’s conclusions.

When you are doing cross-disciplinary research what really matters is the structure of the full body of evidence rather than any authors’ particular interpretation of their data in one paper, which is often biased. 

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