Monday, November 19, 2007

New Year's Resolution - no coconut headphones

I've quoted Richard Feynman before on the subject of cargo cult science:

There is one feature I notice that is generally missing in "cargo cult science"... It's a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty — a kind of leaning over backwards... For example, if you're doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid — not only what you think is right about it... Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them.
But of course this applies to more things than just physics. For example, it applies to politics and economics.

There are (at least) two approaches. One, that you see almost everywhere, is simple tribalism. People go out of their way to avoid pointing out things that might cast doubt on their arguments. The other, one that brings such problems to light, that makes a point of pointing them out, can be found... er...

Well. it'll be found here from now on. I've been pretty tribal at times. I want to take a different approach. I want to try to get at the truth. Oh, I know we all think that, but are we really all levering ourselves out of the groove we've been running in? The evidence I see says we are not. There's even a political culture in which a change of mind is seen as a weakness or as inconsistency, whereas of course a complete absence of changes of mind is the badge of the fanatic. If we never change our minds we're never listening to arguments or burrowing, forensically, into evidence.

So that's my early resolution.

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