If you’re a fan of the scientific method, you probably rely on scientists to be able to interpret data and come to the conclusions that not only matter, but make sense. But why can’t we be the ones to draw conclusions? Why can’t each one of us read the facts for ourselves and decide, based on the data, what it all means? In a world that is increasingly filled with misinformation and pseudoscience, it’s more important than ever to be able to be objective and treat information with the scrutiny that is required. In order to do this, we need to think like scientists. Here’s how to get started.
1. Be a skeptic.
No, you don’t have to start questioning everything around you (but seriously, are we in a simulation?). However, when you’re presented with a new idea or new research, approach it skeptically. Don’t just take someone’s word for it. Check the source. Is it a reputable university? Are the researchers the top in their field? Is there any monetary gain that could be had from convincing others of the truth of this information? Click-bait is the perfect example of why you need to approach information, particularly on the Internet, with skepticism. If someone has something to gain or something to sell, there’s a good chance the information is false or doesn’t include all of the facts.
2. Look at the facts and evidence, not the speculation.
Scientists look for facts and evidence. What evidence is there for the Big Bang? For evolution? For subatomic particles? All of our current understanding of the world comes from years of research, countless experiments, and the collaboration of the world’s most brilliant minds. The reason we trust in these conclusions so heavily is precisely because they’ve taken into account the facts, they follow the evidence, and they’re based on what we see, not what we wish we could see. The scientific method is all about being open to the possibilities, but not closed off from the truth.
3. Don’t reject the conclusion because you dislike it. Reject it because it doesn’t follow the evidence.
Here’s where the real issue comes in. Humans are emotional creatures. Once we have an idea, we’re loathe to abandon it. There’s a lot of pride that goes into this attitude, and as we all know, pride can be the greatest downfall. Conclusions and results in science won’t always be what you want them to be. You might have the greatest theory out there, but if it doesn’t stand up to the evidence, you have to throw it out. Your opinion and beliefs can’t replace evidence. No one’s can. Everyone is entitled to believe what they want to believe, but if you want to think like a scientist and see the world for what it is, you need to be prepared to accept an idea you might not like. Nature doesn’t care what humans want. It just is. And when we can accept that, we can begin to discover and create amazing things.