Chapter 4

Barriers to Scientific Reasoning

We see only what we know.

—Goethe

Overview

There is often a wall separating our desire to improve our scientific reasoning skills and our ability to do so. This makes the lessons of epistemology and philosophy of science all the more compelling, because they instruct us to reflect on how well we think.

For example, later in this book I will be introducing you to David Hume (1711–1776), an eighteenth-century Scottish philosopher famous for “Hume’s Problem of Induction.” Briefly, Hume states that we cannot assume that patterns we see in nature (or markets) will repeat themselves. If we see 100 white swans, we cannot assume that all swans are white—and in fact they are not, as you will find ...

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