Category Archive: The Varieties of Scientific Experience

The Penguin Press: 2006.

How to choose and evaluate our politicians

I think the first thing, in a democracy, where there is at least some pretense about the people controlling government policy, is that every democratic process ought to be used. You can make sure that those whom you vote for have rational views on these matters. You can work hard to make sure that there is a real difference of opinion in the alternative candidates. You can write letters to newspapers and so on. But more important than any of that, I believe, is that each of us must equip him- or herself with a “baloney-detection kit.” [257]

Science: the prototypical tool of human progress

I think that science works by a careful balance of two apparently contradictory impulses. One, a synthetic, holistic, hypothesis-spinning capability, which some people believe is localized in the right hemisphere of the cerebral cortex, and an analytic, skeptical, scrutinizing capability, which some people believe is localized in the left hemisphere of the cerebral cortex. And it is only the mix of these two, the generating of creative hypotheses and the scrupulous rejection of those that do not correspond to the facts that permit science or any other human activity, I believe, to make progress. [248]