Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed

How To Think

I’m reading this book about research and public health and I keep coming across the phenomenon of confirmation bias (the author uses the term “selection bias”) as an obstacle to conducting and interpreting research. From scientists no less!

It’s the same old problem – a researcher forms a hypothesis, and then proceeds to cherry pick data and slant the research to confirm their original idea. The very definition of bad science.

So I’ve been brewing on this, and it occurs to me that perhaps all of us should try to adopt a new way of thinking.

What if we started from the assumption that everything we know is simply the best information we currently have, and that it should be updated as soon as better data reveals itself?

In other words, assume everything we know is wrong until proven otherwise.

If we constantly train our brains to think like this, maybe we will more easily recognize our own confirmation bias – a quality that makes us appear small minded and frankly, not that bright.