We are swamped with information daily. There are many new and exciting discoveries and theories being proposed all the time, many of them in fields with which one may not be intimately familiar. There are also a lot of conmen, fraud artists and 'silly buggers' making more or less outrageous claims. There are some industries which stand to lose out if some claims of modern science are born out. I am thinking here of folks like the tobacco industry. There is a full time business in some countries now discrediting environmental claims. Then there is the fun stuff, like Corporations are inventing people to rubbish their opponents on the internet. A segment of the public relations industry is is going full tilt trying to disprove and deny the reality of global warming. Recent studies have shown that as many as 85% of drug studies reported in major medical journals do not disclose the author's potential conflicts of interest. The traditional media have been swamped by business interests. Newspapers are pages of advertising with a snippet of news. Journalism has been largely superseded by propaganda. The net is no different.
With all these sources clamouring for your attention and all these factors tending towards distortion and misrepresentation, a person needs a well developed tool kit -- a Crap Detector(TM), to distinguish the malarkey. To this end, a few Skeptical Thinking sites may be inspirational and it may be helpful to know some of the latest Skeptical News.
A couple of related pages may also be of use:
In his book The Borderlands of Science, Michael Shermer provides a 10 point Boundary Detection Kit to help differentiate between Science, Semi-Science and Nonsense in claims of scientific validity. You may find it useful.
In his book The Demon Haunted World , Carl Sagan has provided another, similar but longer Baloney Detection kit. This sort of tool kit is useful, but ultimately it is up to the individual to develop critical thinking skills. Here are a few other sites which may be of some use in this endeavour.
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Last modified November 30, 2013