The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe: How to Know What's Really Real in a World Increasingly Full of Fake

Author: Steven Novella, Evan Bernstein
This Month Reddit 3


by ILikeNeurons   2019-11-17

It helps to know how to evaluate evidence, and which news sources are trustworthy.

Aside from that, you can download a sample ballot ahead of the election (sign up for election reminders if you don't know when they all are) and research candidates' priorities on their campaign websites (googling the candidate's name generally works to bring up their campaign website, though sometimes it helps to include the seat they're running for and the election year). Read candidate websites with a skeptical eye, and fact-check the claims they make (,, and are all reasonable starting points / good time-savers, too).

Scientific consensus is also useful to evaluate.

by ILikeNeurons   2019-11-17

Links are necessarily true, but I cited good, reputable sources, and you're at risk of getting hoodwinked by charlatans if you can't tell the difference.

by ILikeNeurons   2019-11-17

There is near universal agreement among economists who've studied the issue.

> You can’t use a source to make your argument for you since another source can be found that contradicts yours.

Sounds like you don't know how to evaluate evidence, if contradicting sources are treated equivalently. I suggest you read this book.

by twicethefirsttime   2019-08-24

skeptics guide to the universe

by ILikeNeurons   2019-08-24

> I don't want to support any of the individual candidates with my vote. I haven't felt strongly enough about any of the parties or candidates.

Ideally you should be voting on rational, ethical principles, not feelings. You're on the hiring committee of some of the most important jobs in your country. It's a job, not a marriage. Your personal influence may be minor, but so is everyone else's. Sitting out leads to candidates that less represent your views, because politicians tend to cater to voters, while ignoring nonvoters. If you're not a voter, your views and values don't factor in, and it's a great way to increase the likelihood that the candidates next round are similarly uninteresting to you or worse. When only those with strong feelings vote, you end up with hyperpartisanship, which is bad and leads to candidates that don't really represent their constituency, and dysfunctional legislatures that can't govern.

When large numbers of people weigh in on something they know almost nothing about, the average is often accurate. Your individual vote may be the wrong one for actualizing your personal values and desires, but ultimately it's the collective that matters, and that will be more accurate the more people who participate.

> I don't believe that my vote counts for anything due to the voting system in place. In Britain we have a first-past-the-post system. Live in a particular party stronghold? You might as well just close your eyes and draw an 'X'

Then change the system. Sitting out entirely is irresponsible. You have a civic duty to vote.

> I don't feel that I know enough about the possible outcomes of the election.

No one does, but those who know the least will be most confident in their beliefs, and if those with doubts sit out, the outcomes will be worse.

> If I don't understand or care about the implications of my vote then it's frankly irresponsible for me to cast a vote.

If you don't understand, you have an obligation to do a little research before you vote. If you don't know how to tell what's real from what's not, take some time to educate yourself, because that's a valuable life skill that goes well beyond voting.

If you don't care, you wouldn't be so bothered by people saying, "If you don't vote, you can't complain."

> Spoil your ballot paper. This process seems simply arbitrary and petty.

Not sure if it's the same in th UK, but here in the U.S. voters are filed differently than nonvoters, and only voters' priorities matter. It's practically far better to vote for a write-in or some other protest vote rather than non-voting.

> "If you don't vote, you can't complain". This is my most hated political platitude. To me it's not far off being pure social manipulation in order to get you to adhere to the system and force you into an opinion.

If you're complaining, you already have an opinion.

> There's no excuse to feel disenfranchised, it's your responsibility to educate yourself. This I agree with, though I don't see it as any legitimate reason as to why I should vote. I can educate myself on and assess all the candidates and still not want to vote for any of them.

This sounds like a misunderstanding of what your vote is supposed to be. It's not a profession of love, it doesn't mean you find the candidate perfect, or that you support everything they do. It means the candidate you've chosen is, in your view, at least marginally better than the other candidate(s). It's virtually impossible that all candidates in a given election are exactly evenly bad.

by ILikeNeurons   2019-07-21

The evidence is right there. If you don't know how to evaluate evidence, I suggest you learn.

by ILikeNeurons   2019-07-21

> But you have to admit that it's possible that the consent was NOT ambiguous. No? Are you really denying the possibility that the guy absolutely thought he had consent (and, let's face it, most likely had it) and the girl is just saying otherwise after the case?

People who say things like that don't understand consent, and are unfamiliar with the research on false allegations:

  • Lisak, D., Gardinier, L., Nicksa, S. C., & Cote, A. M. (2010). False Allegations of Sexual Assault: An Analysis of Ten Years of Reported Cases. Violence Against Women, 16(12), 1318–1334.

  • Weiser, D. A. (2017). Confronting Myths About Sexual Assault: A Feminist Analysis of the False Report Literature, 66(1), 46–60.

  • André W E A De Zutter, R. H. P. J. V. K. (2018). Motives for Filing a False Allegation of Rape. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 47(2), 457.

> People like you with this way of thinking is why I was ultimately in favour of confirming Brett Kavanaugh.

That's because you're not a skeptic, aren't familiar with the neuroscience, and don't know how to evaluate evidence.

> Looking at how extreme you (and others here) are

Ah, yes, those of us who don't advocate rape. So extreme.

by ILikeNeurons   2019-07-21

> By that metric, I should accept a study with a sample size of a single person unless I could prove there was something special about that person.

No, that's not how this works.

> You've come off as pretty dishonest and manipulative.

How so?

> You haven't acknowledged the points I've made

I feel I've addressed your points further up.

> I suggest you reevaluate your approach to advocacy.

The irony is, in all this wasted time, you could have called all your elected officials. Why pick this fight instead? I agree it wasn't a good use of either of our time.

by DijonPepperberry   2019-07-21

Before I took any time to construct a response to you, I read your post history. Your style of thinking is the least scientific it could be. You search for answers that validate your own biases.

I really hope you read more foundational aspects to science so you actually understand how to interpret data and critically read research.

Your susceptibility to charlatanism is actually quite shocking.

For example, Kelly Brogan is literally an example of the worst types of pseudoscience, and virtually none of her approaches are grounded in science.

Dr. Perlmutter is the face of celebrity pseudoscience, and is rightly listed on quackwatch.

Dr. Bredesen is no better, and has relied forever on case reports and literally the opposite of scientific method.

Stop believing quacks. I strongly suggest you purchase a copy of this book and learn how to critically think.

by eigenlaut   2019-07-21

you are in luck - here is the perfect book for you: The Skeptics‘ Guide to the Universe: How to Know What’s Really Real in a World Increasingly Full of Fake

by ILikeNeurons   2019-07-21

It helps to able to tell right from wrong.