I'd like to open a discussion about "summary judgments." Given that it's impossible to know everything, how do we understand what is quackery and what is decent science. If we are really freethinkers seeking knowledge independent of tradition or authority, then how do we decide? I've never collided any particles to determine the accuracy of quantum mechanics.
So scientists, presumably, at some point, have properly executed the scientific method. They posed a hypothesis, did experiments, and let the world speak for itself. Some of them, on the other hand, found a decent marketing opportunity, mocked up a fake CNN set, and told us Glucosamine will repair our joints.
So here's the question, what is a good set of procedures to help us find the good science and avoid the random claims, without having to fly through space, or use a supercollider, or mix dangerous chemicals.

ps. both judgement and judgment are correct although judgement is sometimes listed as an error.

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To start off I would recommend Carl Sagan's baloney detection which can be found here:


This would be something one could immediately use to navigate through various truth claims and focus on substance rather than how nifty the TV studio looks. A long term strategy might be picking a book up on informal logic so your vetting process automatically excludes claims based on shoddy reasoning.


I usually look at the publication in which the research was found. Peer-reviewed journals don't have much hooey-science in them. This doesn't mean that the research is infallible, of course, but does set a reasonable standard and a certain level of (dare I say) faith is warranted that the entire review board of a journal isn't trying to pull one over on us. It IS a hard thing to validate while surfing the net and wading through the huge glut of scientific information and other mis-information.

Good topic though!
Personally I always watch out for "certainties", good science doesn't tend to speak in terms of absolutes or perfect truths. That is usually my #1 bells going off that what I am dealing with is not necessarily reliable.

Comments are always a nice place to look as well, you can see what the common consensus is, and who believes it.

Personally a lot of people are down on Wikipedia and Google, but if you know how to use them, and have a healthy dose of skepticism when you read the results, you can often stumble upon some nice science stuff, a lot off on-line science publications, unless they are behind a pay wall usually let google freely trawl their stuff.

Snopes.com and straightdope.com are nice one stop shops for common public mis-conceptions.


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