Skepticism: Why critical thinking makes you smarter

Being skeptical isn't just about being contrarian. It's about asking the right questions of ourselves and others to gain understanding.

  • It's not always easy to tell the difference between objective truth and what we believe to be true. Separating facts from opinions, according to skeptic Michael Shermer, theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, and others, requires research, self-reflection, and time.
  • Recognizing your own biases and those of others, avoiding echo chambers, actively seeking out opposing voices, and asking smart, testable questions are a few of the ways that skepticism can be a useful tool for learning and growth.
  • As Derren Brown points out, being "skeptical of skepticism" can also lead to interesting revelations and teach us new things about ourselves and our psychology.
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Cephalopod aces 'marshmallow test' designed for eager children

The famous cognition test was reworked for cuttlefish. They did better than expected.

Credit: Hans Hillewaert via Wikicommons
  • Scientists recently ran the Stanford marshmallow experiment on cuttlefish and found they were pretty good at it.
  • The test subjects could wait up to two minutes for a better tasting treat.
  • The study suggests cuttlefish are smarter than you think but isn't the final word on how bright they are.
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How exercise changes your brain biology and protects your mental health

Contrary to what some might think, the brain is a very plastic organ.

PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP via Getty Images

As with many other physicians, recommending physical activity to patients was just a doctor chore for me – until a few years ago. That was because I myself was not very active.

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Lab-grown brain organoids mature like real infant brains

After 20 months, scientists find lab-dish brain cells matured at a similar rate to those of an actual infant.

Credit: Girl with the red hat/Unsplash/jolygon/Adobe Stock/Big Think
  • Scientists have found that cultures of embryonic brain cells mature at the same rate as a 20-month-old infant's.
  • Researchers have looked to such cell structures, called "organoids," as potential models for understanding the human body's biological mechanisms.
  • Their study validates the use of lab-dish organoids for research.
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Drinking coffee while pregnant alters the fetal brain

A large new study puts caffeine-drinking moms on alert.

Credit: Suhyeon Choi/Unsplash
  • A study finds that the brains of children born to mothers who consumed coffee during pregnancy are different.
  • Neuroregulating caffeine easily crosses the placental barrier.
  • The observed differences may be associated with behavioral issues.
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