Saturday, February 5, 2011

If you value truth, prove yourself wrong.

Unwavering loyalty to an idea is incompatible with responsible information creation, dissemination, and consumption.  Or as Richard Feynman said (paraphrasing from a distant memory here…) A scientist is obliged to try to prove himself wrong.

Here’s an on-topic snippet from the home page of The Cultural Cognition Project

Are We Watching a Game?

In debates over climate change, gun control, the HPV vaccine, and myriad other risks, Americans respond to scientific data in much the same way sports fans react to disputed calls on the playing field--cheering or booing based on how the evidence affects their "team." A paper published in Nature links this dynamic to cultural cognition and addresses what can be done to counteract it.

And here is a chilling snippet from the aforementioned paper in Nature.

Cultural cognition also causes people to interpret new evidence in a biased way that reinforces their predispositions. As a result, groups with opposing values often become more polarized, not less, when exposed to scientifically sound information. - home

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