Scientific reasoning is essential to a successful career in science. But research in the journal Science claims this skill can’t be learned through memorization of facts alone. Author Lei Bao explains the findings, and how teachers can apply them in the classroom.
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The director of the American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium and author of The Pluto Files, Neil deGrasse Tyson, talks about the future of NASA, Pluto’s demotion to dwarf-planet status, and the difference between Darwin and Einstein.
"Reasoning was not designed to pursue the truth. Reasoning was designed by evolution to help us win arguments. That’s why they call it The Argumentative Theory of Reasoning. So, as they put it, "The evidence reviewed here shows not only that reasoning falls quite short of reliably delivering rational beliefs and rational decisions. It may even be, in a variety of cases, detrimental to rationality. Reasoning can lead to poor outcomes, not because humans are bad at it, but because they systematically strive for arguments that justify their beliefs or their actions. This explains the confirmation bias, motivated reasoning, and reason-based choice, among other things."
Judea Pearl is a professor of computer science and the director of the Cognitive Systems Laboratory at UCLA. He is known internationally for his contributions to artificial intelligence, human reasoning and philosophy of science. He is the author of over three hundred scientific papers and three landmark books in his fields of interest: Heuristics (1984), Probabilistic Reasoning (1988), and Causality (2000). His current interests are artificial intelligence and knowledge representation, probabilistic and causal reasoning, nonstandard logics and learning strategies. Pearl is the father of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl and president of the Daniel Pearl Foundation, which he co-founded with his family in February 2002, "to continue Daniel’s life-work of dialogue and understanding and to address the root causes of his tragedy."