Forbes, the business magazine, posted a pretty good article on discerning science from pseudo-science. The article “10 Questions To Distinguish Real From Fake Science” by Emily Willingham focuses on health and medical claims. It is a good primer, though, on general skeptical thinking.
Among its many gems:
What kind of language does it use?
Does it involve testimonials?
Given that one of the major American political parties and its gigantic propaganda arm is having to pick itself up after running up against the reality of mathematics and breaking their noses on actual numbers, this article seems particularly timely.
I would like to propose an idea, dovetailing off of the idea of ‘evidence-based medicine’ an ‘evidence-based politics’. When some pol gets up and says that, for instance, when a woman gets raped that ‘the female body has ways of shutting that thole thing down‘ there should be a political cost to pay for this. Now, to be fair, none of the group of crazy anti-abortion fanatics that I affectionately call the ‘Rape-Thing Posse’ won on Tuesday night so that’s a good thing. Yet, we still have climate change denial and evolution denial as perfectly respectable positions to take in American politics.
On that note, mad, mad, crazy mad, props must go out to Nate Silver of the 538 blog for calling all 50 states correctly and for standing tall when conservative bloggers slammed him for, well, using mathematics.
The last decade of American politics hasn’t been particularly good for those of us who are proud members of the reality-based community. Let’s hope that on Tuesday that began to change.
(image from bigcityal)