Champion Skeptic

Astronomer Carl Sagan said that we need a balance between two conflicting needs—the most skeptical scrutiny of all hypotheses that are served up to us and a great openness to new ideas. If you are only skeptical, then you never learn anything new. You become a crotchety old person convinced that nonsense is ruling the world. (There is, of course, much data to support you.) On the other hand, if you are open to the point of gullibility and have not an ounce of skeptical sense in you, then you cannot distinguish useful ideas from the worthless ones.

Ask for help from strong opinion leaders, who are skeptical of your new idea, to play the role of “official skeptic.” Use their comments to improve your effort, even if you don’t change ...

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