The Neuroscience behind Bias and Bad Science


My bona fide cool boss sent me this article in Wired [two articles from one publication is considered a "kick" for me. Normally I like to wander from place to place.] I suppose it's because she'd like us all to do better science. The article goes into depth on why we expect to see what we do (and vice-versa), how we edit this information to fit our beliefs- making a convincing argument in favor of theoretical diversity and open debate.
Over the past few decades, psychologists have dismantled the myth of objectivity. The fact is, we carefully edit our reality, searching for evidence that confirms what we already believe... The problem with science, then, isn’t that most experiments fail — it’s that most failures are ignored.
The lesson: scientists, or any group of people working towards a common goal, could stand to benefit from being more social with thinkers from diverse theoretical backgrounds.
Dunbar [the principle investigator]... found that the intellectual mix generated a distinct type of interaction in which the scientists were forced to rely on metaphors and analogies to express themselves. (That’s because they lacked a specialized language that everyone could understand.) These abstractions proved essential for problem-solving, as they encouraged the scientists to reconsider their assumptions. Having to explain the problem to someone else forced them to think, if only for a moment, like an intellectual on the margins, filled with self-skepticism.
This is why other people are so helpful: They shock us out of our cognitive box. “I saw this happen all the time,” Dunbar says. “A scientist would be trying to describe their approach, and they’d be getting a little defensive, and then they’d get this quizzical look on their face. It was like they’d finally understood what was important.” 
Accept Defeat: The Neuroscience of Screwing Up

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