The Baloney Detection Kit

(Image via itskeptic.org)

One of the lessons taught to me and so many children was to believe in authority figures and what they said. They knew what they were talking about. They had the job or education to back up what they thought, believed or said and we were not to argue. Can you tell my parents were from the generation of people who happily said “children should be seen and not heard“.

I recently watched the video The Baloney Detection Kit courtesy of the website Brain Pickings and thought, “I wish this was taught when I went to school”.  Skeptic Magazine editor Michael Shermer is the host of the 15 minute video, closed captions included, and is produced by The Richard Dawkins Foundation and Michael Shermer.

At the beginning of the video, Shermer asks “How do you know if something is right or wrong? How do you know?”. His answer is to not automatically believe anybody based on whatever position of authority they may have  but to check it out yourself. Shermer asks 10 questions to consider and gives an example with each question on how to reach your own conclusion when someone makes a claim.

It’s a quick, interesting video that I believe should be passed on to both children and adults. As children, we were taught what to think, not how to think. Now, there is so much information coming at us from so many sources. You can usually find a group that makes a claim,  a group who tries to criticize,  disprove or demean the claim and everybody in between. Below are the 10 questions discussed in the video to help that can help us reach our own conclusions.

1. How reliable is the source of the claim?
2.Does the source make similar claims?
3. Have the claims been verified by somebody else?
4. Does this fit with the way the world works?
5. Has anyone tried to disprove the claim?
6. Where does the preponderance of evidence point?
7. Is the claimant playing by the rules of science?
8. Is the claimant providing positive evidence?
9. Does the new theory account for as many phenomena as the old theory?
10. Are personal beliefs driving the claim?

Advertisements

2 comments

  1. First I thought it funny the Chimp had on a Smokey Bear hat, my father was a forest ranger…the Smokey Bear kind, fight forest fires and all that, so I got a chuckle.

    But you are so right, we were raised to believe adults were always right. If you are in trouble, tell an adult (well wait a moment, wouldn’t it be an adult you were running from?)
    Too many times growing up I believed adults because I was supposed to, I did what I was “supposed to”
    Then I rebelled of course, and now my family looks at me like I’m strange. I finally realized, a lot of that is because they never questioned, and they always, “just let it go and move on” well then won’t things just happen again or just fester and never really get resolved (yes that’s a different issue.) But things like, oh I don’t know….religion, they’ve never questioned….just believe…how can you do that?
    Have faith? I question. And really, the source it’s all coming from, makes no sense to me….

    so you go girl. Good baloney detector.

    This year of elections, we need to carry it around all the time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s