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The Baloney Detection Kit

I found this video via the Anecdote blog. It lists “10 questions to help you decide whether a viewpoint, opinion, theory is worth taking on board and believing.” Here are the questions that will help you detect baloney.
RDF TV – The Baloney Detection Kit – Michael Shermer
They seem quite useful for information literacy training. It has been a sumer of gifts for detecting fool’s gold, what with fak Obama birth certificates and all.
10 Questions for Detecting Baloney:
1. How reliable is the source of the claim?
2. Does the source make similar claims? (eg. if you are into magic (or evolution), then all your ideas have a magic (or evolution) bent)
3. Have the claims been verified by somebody else?
4. Does this fit with the way the world works?
5. Has anyone tried to disprove the claim?
6. Where does the preponderance of evidence point?
7. Is the claimant playing by the rules of science
8. Is the claimant providing positive evidence? (it’s too easy to just bag the other side)
9. Does the new theory account for as many phenomena as the old theory?
10. Are personal beliefs driving the claim?
Credence and credulity – the future depends on it!

Posted on: August 14, 2009, 9:36 am Category: Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. William said

    Interesting, but what if a “preponderance of evidence” and the “rules of science” and the “way the world works” point to customer service being unnecessary and a company’s usefulness being unnecessary? Or maybe someone else would use the rules to conclude just the opposite, that a company must have good customer service and a useful role(s).
    Perhaps the rules are only good enough to debunk “you won the lottery” email.
    Thanks for making the point that real b.s. detection requires that you use your full set of skills and not just pick the ones that prove your point. It’s exactly like you say – one customer service bad experience does not ensure that all experiences are always that way. Only fools think that but there are always those who try to persuade people using this unethical and singularly silly approach.
    The rules are just a start on trying to train for credulity in the overall population. It’s scary what some people believe today and the number of Snopes-ready stuff seemingly rational people send to me!