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Skeptical Thinking Essay

1246 words - 5 pages

Carl Sagan's The Fine Art of Baloney Detection depicts the importance of thinking skeptically before new ideas can be accepted (Sagan, 1997). Skeptical thinking pertains to our ability to distinguish what is true from what is false in some sort of logical argument or idea. Sagan promotes nine tools for this type of thinking, six of which I believe are the most useful will be discussed throughout this essay.
The first tool that I found to be relatively effective in proving that an argument is truthful was Sagan's first tool of providing information that validates the facts (Sagan, 1997). In order to establish that the facts are honest, there must be evidence in the argument that confirms without a doubt that the facts are correct. This is what makes this tool so useful. It takes away some of the doubt you may have had in an idea if the facts in it are backed up with proof. For example, a scientist has a theory, but has no evidence to support it. With no evidence, this scientist has no way of showing that his theory is valid.
Another tool that I found useful was that there is no one person who has the absolute authority when it comes to science (Sagan, 1997). It establishes that you should not always believe what you hear just because it comes from someone who seems credible, especially if they do not provide evidence to support their claim. This idea also is useful because it shows that no one knows everything and that everyone makes mistakes. For example, product commercials endorsed by celebrities often lead to people buying those products (Mesher, 2012). We do not know if these celebrities are using the products they are trying to endorse or if these products actually work. The celebrities in these ads give no solid proof as to why these products are better than the others, but yet people go out and buy the products just because their favorite celebrity said to. This is a great example of how people blindly trust authority figures, and how these authority figures may have no clue what they are talking about.
Coming up with multiple hypotheses for an idea you have is a skeptical thinking tool that can be very helpful when it comes to trying to completely and accurately prove that your hypothesis is right (Sagan, 1997). This tool is useful because it helps you rule out other explanations for your argument (Railsback, 1990). Multiple hypotheses also make it so that you are more likely to gain significant results from your research. This way you are not wasting your time with one false hypothesis. It can also allow for multiple causes for an argument to be determined all at once. For example, let's say that I want to do a study on what causes weight loss. I come up with multiple hypotheses. One is that people exercise a lot. Another could be that people are losing weight because they are eating healthier, or maybe that they are taking diet pills. When I do the experiment, I find that all of these factors contribute to a...

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