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Sat Sep 19, 2020, 06:40 PM

The Baloney Detection Kit (Carl Sagan was too well-mannered to call it bullshit) (brainpickings)

Carl Sagan’s rules for critical thinking offer cognitive fortification against propaganda, pseudoscience, and general falsehood.

Brain Pickings | Maria Popova

Carl Sagan (November 9, 1934–December 20, 1996) was many things — a cosmic sage, voracious reader, hopeless romantic, and brilliant philosopher. But above all, he endures as our era’s greatest patron saint of reason and critical thinking, a master of the vital balance between skepticism and openness. In The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (public library) — the same indispensable volume that gave us Sagan’s timeless meditation on science and spirituality, published mere months before his death in 1996 — Sagan shares his secret to upholding the rites of reason, even in the face of society’s most shameless untruths and outrageous propaganda.

In a chapter titled “The Fine Art of Baloney Detection,” Sagan reflects on the many types of deception to which we’re susceptible — from psychics to religious zealotry to paid product endorsements by scientists, which he held in especially low regard, noting that they “betray contempt for the intelligence of their customers” and “introduce an insidious corruption of popular attitudes about scientific objectivity.” (Cue in PBS’s Joe Hanson on how to read science news.) But rather than preaching from the ivory tower of self-righteousness, Sagan approaches the subject from the most vulnerable of places — having just lost both of his parents, he reflects on the all too human allure of promises of supernatural reunions in the afterlife, reminding us that falling for such fictions doesn’t make us stupid or bad people, but simply means that we need to equip ourselves with the right tools against them.

Through their training, scientists are equipped with what Sagan calls a “baloney detection kit” — a set of cognitive tools and techniques that fortify the mind against penetration by falsehoods:
The kit is brought out as a matter of course whenever new ideas are offered for consideration. If the new idea survives examination by the tools in our kit, we grant it warm, although tentative, acceptance. If you’re so inclined, if you don’t want to buy baloney even when it’s reassuring to do so, there are precautions that can be taken; there’s a tried-and-true, consumer-tested method.

But the kit, Sagan argues, isn’t merely a tool of science — rather, it contains invaluable tools of healthy skepticism that apply just as elegantly, and just as necessarily, to everyday life. By adopting the kit, we can all shield ourselves against clueless guile and deliberate manipulation. Sagan shares nine of these tools:

1. Wherever possible there must be independent confirmation of the “facts.”


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lots more: https://getpocket.com/explore/item/the-baloney-detection-kit-carl-sagan-s-rules-for-bullshit-busting-and-critical-thinking?utm_source=pocket-newtab

Please bookmark the link and come back to read it when you have time to read it slowly and full digest it.

I read this book many years ago, at a time when science and factual thinking were under attack, but nowhere near as viciously and mendaciously as today. It may be time to go back and re-read it, comparing what has happened to the GOP with Sagan's warnings about going down that path.

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Reply The Baloney Detection Kit (Carl Sagan was too well-mannered to call it bullshit) (brainpickings) (Original post)
eppur_se_muova Sep 19 OP
angstlessk Sep 19 #1

Response to eppur_se_muova (Original post)

Sat Sep 19, 2020, 07:18 PM

1. I am downloading it now from audible

Thanks for the information..

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