There is nothing cooler than growing up with a geek dad.

I had heard of Douglas Adams and Alan Moore before Hollywood got hold of them and had long chats over books and the universe next to a huge office poster of Batman.

Of course, when you have someone constantly trying to get you to read certain authors, those are the last authors you will pick up.

I am sorry to say I have never read a Carl Sagan book.

But there was a Cosmos VHS tape around the house (never mind the Contact movie) and I have always loved the way he made science sound approachable. Deeply handicapped as my technical scientific knowledge is in any of its areas, there is something about the rules of the scientific method that have always seemed to me as the sort of guidelines and valuable insight you’d get from an ancient, wise guru.

To celebrate Sagan’s birthday and illustrate my point, I present to you:

Baloney Detection Kit – Warning signs that suggest deception.

Wherever possible there must be independent confirmation of the facts.

Arguments from authority carry little weight.

Spin more than one hypothesis – don’t simply run with the first idea that caught your fancy.

Try not to get overly attached to a hypothesis just because it’s yours.

If there is a chain of argument every link in the chain must work.

Occam’s razor – if there are two hypotheses that explain the data equally, choose the simpler.

(Based on The Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan and taken from his official website)


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