I know some people who believe some pretty ridiculous things. I know people who buy into astrology and tarot cards. I know people who insist the Earth is only 6,000 years old. I’m friends with someone who believes the Moon Landing was a hoax, and recently I had a conversation with a 9/11 truther. That conversation got uncomfortable real fast.
The thing is, whenever these people find out I’m a huge science enthusiast, they always end up throwing science back in my face. It’s a basic principle of science, isn’t it? You have to keep an open mind, don’t you? Scientific theories have been disproven before, and scientists should be prepared to admit when they’re wrong.
Whenever I get the “keep an open mind” lecture, I respond with a quote that’s often attributed to Carl Sagan: “It pays to keep an open mind, but not so open your brains fall out.”
Because in science, the consensus opinion does change. Old theories do make way for new ones (though it’s rare for a well established theory to be overturned in its entirety). It does pay to keep an open mind, but that doesn’t mean switching off your critical thinking skills. And when a hypothesis doesn’t stand up to questioning and scrutiny, when it doesn’t agree with experimental or observational evidence, it’s probably not because my mind isn’t open enough; it’s probably because your hypothesis is wrong.
Just my two cents for today.