2011 : WHAT SCIENTIFIC CONCEPT WOULD IMPROVE EVERYBODY'S COGNITIVE TOOLKIT?

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Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education; Author,Truth, Beauty, and Goodness Reframed
How Would You Disprove Your Viewpoint?!

Thanks to Karl Popper, we have a simple and powerful tool: the phrase "How Would You Disprove Your Viewpoint?!" 

In a democratic and demotic society like ours, the biggest challenge to scientific thinking is the tendency to embrace views on the basis of faith or of ideology. A majority of Americans doubt evolution because it goes against their religious teachings; and at least a sizeable minority are skeptical about global warming — or more precisely, the human contributions to global change — because efforts to counter climate change would tamper with the 'free market'. 

Popper popularized the notion that a claim is scientific only to the extent that it can be disproved — and that science works through perpetual efforts to disprove claims. 

If American citizens, or, for that matter, citizens anywhere were motivated to decribe the conditions under which they would relinquish their beliefs, they would begin to think scientifically. And if they admitted that empirical evidence would not change their minds, then at least they'd have indicated that their views have a religious or an ideological, rather than a scientific basis.