January 17

Going Mental

Thursday’s Big Idea

Skepticism

It pays to be a skeptic. Not only can some simple habits help us snap out of unhealthy behaviors that are the product of our biases, we also have the ability to take a more rational look at risk reduction, which benefits society.

In today's lesson, the skeptic and author Penn Jillette makes a distinction between what people "feel as evidence instead of what they think as evidence or what they can prove as evidence." You should not feel about the speed of light or evolution, Jillette argues, just as you should not "think about love." In other words, you should feel “I love you,” and you should think about reality.

If you confuse the two, not only will you be cheapening the emotion of love, Jillette says, you will also be cheapening science. Instead you should think about the world and feel about your heart. 

 

  1. 1 Penn Jillette's Guide to Skepticism
  2. 2 Silence is Not an Option: The Mor...
  3. 3 How to Use Magical Thinking
  4. 4 Rationality in Action: Look at a ...
   
  1. Penn Jillette's Guide to Skepticism

    Penn Jillette's Guide to Skepticism

    Penn Jillette says healthy skepticism involves maintaining the distinction between what you think and what you feel. 

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  2. Silence is Not an Option: The Moral Necessity of the Skeptic Movement

    Silence is Not an Option: The Moral Necessity of the Skeptic Movement

    Why do skeptics bother to debunk quackery if the rational adult who chooses to use these unverified methods harms no-one but himself?

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  3. How to Use Magical Thinking

    How to Use Magical Thinking

    Matt Hutson argues that magical thinking is based on very basic intuitions and emotions that we all have. Skepticism is just the tendency to question these intuitions, to use critical thinking to second guess these elements of magical thinking.

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  4. Rationality in Action: Look at a Problem as an Outsider

    Rationality in Action: Look at a Problem as an Outsider

    Julia Galef provides a fix for the "the commitment effect," the condition of sticking with a business plan or a career or a relationship "long after it has become quite clear that it's not doing anything for us."

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