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What science to accept

  • Ensure that any science you trust has passed through the peer-review process. And even then it might not be accurate. 
  • Search for information on the limits of the data in science reports. Were assumptions made? Be concerned if the discussion of them is missing.
  • Assess the preciseness of language, tightness of structure and restraint with which they present moral issues.
  • Assess the historical, cultural, and personal context of the study.
  • Are they willing to entertain alternative opinions and interpretations?

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MORE IDEAS FROM THE ARTICLE

Stories are the primary way through which we make sense of our world. We explain ideas by telling stories.

Even science uses storytelling when they use data of the physical world to explain phenomena that cannot be reduced to physical facts, or when they extend incomplete data to draw general conclusions.

For example, knowing the atomic weight of carbon and oxygen cannot explain to us what life is. 

Where science and story meet

Despite the verities of science, we feel compelled to tell stories that venture beyond the facts.

When we first see separate ideas, we feel obliged to find a relationship between the ideas to form a coherent picture. Once a possible relationship has been established, we feel the need to come up with an explanation.

The brain’s reward system

When the brain pieces separate bits of an image together to form a coherent picture, it is known as pattern recognition. Once we recognize a pattern, it can spark a degree of pleasure, often described as that "a-ha" moment.

Science is about making up stories called hypotheses and testing them, then coming up with better stories. Once a story is complete, science goes to a lab to test it. While a story is useful, it can also be a problem if we run with an incomplete story. Our brains' reward for possible pattern-matching can overlook conflicting information as it searches for patterns, not identical inputs.

We earn a dopamine reward every time we understand something - even if the explanation is defective. This may result in misinterpreting data.

Good science = precise data - possible interpretations.

Good science is a humble recognition of the limits of what scientific data can say.

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RELATED IDEAS

Contributors to the study of the olfactory sense
  • Santiago Ramón y Cajal: A founding father of neuroscience, he drew attention to the sense of smell as an exemplary model to learn how the brain makes sense of the world. He also believed that understanding smell would grant us better insight into other sensory systems
  • Linda Buck & Richard Axel: They discovered the olfactory receptors which happened to be the most structurally diverse and sizable member of the largest multi-gene family of protein receptors. They received the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

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IDEAS

Our brain on stories

A story can put your whole brain to work.

When we are being told a story, not only are the language processing parts in our brain activated, but any other area in our brain that we would use when experiencing the events of the story are too.

Hardwired for Stories

We love to tell and listen to stories. The 'Story Narrative' is hardwired in us, as we think and remember in stories.

A strong narrative can be the difference between success and failure.