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What Do I Know


darwinfish

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As anyone knows that's ever debated with a coworker, friend, or family member, we all have opinions. I have my opinions and you have yours. You don't get too far into life without forming ideas about the world around you. So, where do we get our ideas? Generally speaking, we first get our ideas about the world from our family. Whatever I was told by my mom was an absolute certain fact. How did I know it was a fact? Because my mom said so, and she wouldn't lie. As I got older, my teachers gave me all my facts about life, the universe, and everything. Sometimes one of my friends would tell me something I had never heard before, and that became fact, too. By the time I became a teenager, I had accumulated a lot of facts about the world.

 

I really don't remember the first time I questioned something I had been told. I never bought into the Santa Claus or Tooth Fairy bit, so I never had that moment where I found out it was all a lie. But, I do know that by the time I had become a teenager, I did start to question what I was told. I wasn't really good at researching anything for myself. So, when I had two contradicting ideas, I simply had to choose which one made more sense to me. Thinking about it now, I think 90% of the debates I had with my friends came from matters of opinion. Not one of us would ever have any real evidence to compare.

 

Evidence is really the key. Colleges these days talk about teaching critical thinking skills. So, most classes want you to know how to support your ideas with evidence. It took a while before it really sunk in, but I now realize that's the only way to discover real truth. Everyone can have an idea, or belief, or opinion of something. But, unless there's evidence to support those ideas, it's all just speculation. Speculation is fine, don't get me wrong. Coming up with different ideas about the world is what drives scientific investigation. But, speculation is not fact. Evidence is the only way to determine fact from fiction.

 

So, what counts for evidence? Scientific evidence comes from research or logical and mathematical models. The more evidence to support an idea, gives it more credibility. Hardly anything in science is held to 100% certainty. There's always room for doubt. If any research can produce an experiment that will undermine an accepted scientific fact, then the new evidence will replace the old. So, our collection of scientific data is constantly being corrected and made more accurate.

 

I'm not a scientist, so at some point I have to rely on what information is giving to me. I think it'd would be an impossible task to have to research every idea from your past up until now. So, the way I live my life when it comes to new ideas, is to be a little skeptical to everything that comes my way. I'll only actually look up supporting evidence if it is something that's important to me. If it doesn't peak my interest, or doesn't really impact my life in anyway, then I'm not really motivated to research it. It could be true or it could be false, but until I'm really interested in finding out more, then I try not to make a decision either way.

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