Thursday, October 21, 2010

Ben Goldacre Interview on CTV

October 19, 2010 on CTV -

Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks


  1. I've said it before, though not here if I recall.

    Schools should be required to start "Science" class from as early a grade as possible. starting by teaching the Scientific Method, and it's terminology, and why it's such a great setp for humanity.
    In doing so the kids will learn critical thinking, and hopefully be able to recognize a quack, and pseudo science far easier than people are apparenly able to do today.

  2. I often wonder if it would help. Part of me suspects that if a program of that sort were put into practice, you may be able to up the numbers of skeptics in the world by a few percent but it wouldn't move much. I doubt it would produce a 'skeptical awakening'-like enlightenment.

    I have a sneaking  suspicion that in order for a person to understand skepticism and the scientific method at a deep level, a level where they have truly internalized the knowledge about how to apply critical analysis and judicious doubt, they need to have a certain baseline level of intelligence that I just don't think the majority of the population has. Anyway, it certainly couldn't hurt to start kids on science and skepticism at a very young age and I'd very much like to see the results of the experiment!

  3. I think it's one of those things that a school just can't do all that well.  At least a public school where one teacher is trying to make sure 30 kids all keep up.  They have to teach to the slowest kid in the class.

    My son is 3 and I never dumb stuff down for him.  And I try to get him asking things more than just feeding him facts.  And get him thinking what could the causes for something be, and most importantly, how could we find out if we're right?

  4. Disagree totally. There are plenty of intelligent people who are gullible - look at the pope. I also know others who are not well educated, who recognise a quack when they see one.

    There is no great intelligence needed, just a willingness to not be lazy and critique other people's claims.

    Also, even gullible evengelical's are suddenly very good critiqueing the claims of other people's religion. They laugh at the idea of Mohammed riding to heaven on a white stallion - but yet accept the idea of Elijah making the same journey on a chariot.

    Agree that teaching critical thinking and scientific method will not lead to a mass enlightenment - but this is not because people are dumber then atheists/free thinkers. There are many factors which cause people to believe and postpone criticial thinking to their 'beliefs' - Shermer's "Why do people believe weird things?

    I suspect that what atheists need to concentrate on in our discussion with believers is not what they believe, but why do they believe - and then to address these undermining issues.