Dowsing for metal ore, from " De re metallica libri XII" book Use of a divining Rod observed in Britain in the late 18th century Dowsing as practiced today may have originated in Germany during the 16th century, when it was used in attempts to find metals.
The truth can be uncomfortable Credit: A debate that starts with testable factual statements, but then, when the truth becomes inconvenient, the person takes a flight from facts. As public debate rages about issues such as immunization, Obamacare and same-sex marriage, many people try to use science to bolster their arguments.
And because it's becoming easier to test and establish facts—whether in physics, psychology or policy—many have wondered why bias and polarization have not been defeated.
When people are confronted with facts, such as the well-established safety of immunization, why do these facts seem to have so little effect?
Our recent research, published in in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, examined a slippery way by which people get away from facts that contradict their beliefs.
Of course, sometimes people just dispute the validity of specific facts. But we find that sometimes they go one step further and, as in the opening example, reframe an issue in untestable ways.
This makes potential important facts and science ultimately irrelevant to the issue. Let's consider the issue of same-sex marriage. Facts could be relevant to whether it should be legal—for example, if data showed that children raised by same-sex parents are worse off—or just as well-off—as children raised by opposite-sex parents.
But what if those facts contradict one's views? We presented American participants who supported or opposed same-sex marriage with supposed scientific facts that supported or disputed their position. When the facts opposed their views, our participants—on both sides of the issue—were more likely to state that same-sex marriage isn't actually about facts, it's more a question of moral opinion.
But when the facts were on their side, they more often stated that their opinions were fact-based and much less about morals.
In other words, we observed something beyond the denial of particular facts: In a similar study using religious participants, we had some read an article critical of religion. These experiments show that when people's beliefs are threatened, they often take flight to a land where facts do not matter.
For instance, sometimes people dispute government policies based on the argument that they don't work.
Yet if facts suggest that the policies do work, the same person might stay resolvedly against the argument based on principle. One would hope that objective facts could allow people to reach consensus more easily, but American politics are more polarized than ever.
Could this polarization be a consequence of feeling free of facts? While it is difficult to objectively test that idea, we can experimentally assess a fundamental question: When people are made to see their important beliefs as relatively less rather than more testable, does it increase polarization and commitment to desired beliefs?
Two experiments we conducted suggest so. In an experiment with Americans conducted during President Barack Obama's tenurewe reminded roughly half of participants that much of Obama's policy performance was empirically testable and did not remind the other half.
Then participants rated Obama's performance on five domains such as job creation. Comparing opponents and supporters of Obama, we found that the reminder of testability reduced the average polarized assessments of Obama's performance by about 40 percent.
To further test the hypothesis that people strengthen their desired beliefs when the beliefs are free of facts, we looked at a sample of participants that varied from highly to moderately religious. We found that when highly but not more moderately religious participants were told that God's existence will always be untestable, they reported stronger desirable religious beliefs afterward such as the belief that God was looking out for themrelative to when they were told that one day science might be able to investigate God's existence.
Together these findings show, at least in some cases, when testable facts are less a part of the discussion, people dig deeper into the beliefs they wish to have—such as viewing a politician in a certain way or believing God is constantly there to provide support. These results bear similarities to the many studies that find when facts are fuzzier, people tend to exaggerate desired beliefs.
So after examining the power of untestable beliefs, what have we learned about dealing with human psychology? We have learned that bias is a disease and to fight it we need a healthy treatment of facts and education.
We find that when facts are injected into the conversation, the symptoms of bias become less severe.Despite such idiosyncrasies, knowing a few things about the purposes and format of a journal article will help you get published. You should understand the function of each section and write accordingly.
Scientific misconduct is the violation of the standard codes of scholarly conduct and ethical behavior in the publication of professional scientific research.A Lancet review on Handling of Scientific Misconduct in Scandinavian countries provides the following sample definitions: (reproduced in The COPE report ).
Danish definition: "Intention or gross negligence leading to fabrication of. Scientific Article Review Definition of Genre Summaries and critiques are two ways to write a review of a scientific journal article.
Both types of writing ask you first to read and understand an article from the primary literature about . Once you have a detailed outline, it is time to write the prose.
Make sure your writing is scientifically and grammatically correct--and make it interesting. Tips for Writing a Discussion. tips-for-writing-scientific-journal-articles. A major part of any writing assignment consists of re-writing.
Write accurately. Scientific writing must be accurate. Although writing instructors may tell you not to use the same word twice in a sentence, it's okay for scientific writing, which must be accurate. Scientific American is the essential guide to the most awe-inspiring advances in science and technology, explaining how they change our understanding of the world and shape our lives.