Every day it seems we are bombarded with news of some new psychological scientific study revealing some fascinating new factoid about human nature.

Perhaps a bit more skepticism:

“Andrew Ferguson, writing in the Weekly Standard, recently skewered the worlds of business and government, which credulously gobble up all sorts of suspect ‘findings’ and use them to shape marketing strategies and regulation; to a large extent, he notes, the findings of social psychology are derived from what are ultimately just a bunch of college kids paid to fill out questionnaires. For example, just because some undergraduates given a $50 windfall in an experiment spent it differently depending on whether they were told it was a ‘bonus’ or a ‘tuition rebate’ doesn’t mean you can confidently predict what taxpayers will do with a tax cut.” (The Wall Street Journal, May 14, 2010, “6,300 Dupes Want to Know: Why’d You Lie?”)

Perhaps we should be “far more skeptical that research of this sort reveals fundamental insight into human nature, that it is a reliable guide to our cognitive virtues and vices.” We are taught to respect science, to see science as a source of absolute truth in a world of grays. But scientists are as human as any of us, as desirous of fame and fortune (or grants and the warmth of the spotlight) as anyone. It is this inbred deference to science that “deters the layman from snooping around to see if the science makes sense.”

Subject everything to healthy inquiry. Truth has no fear of transparency or challenge.

Closing Quotes:

“Every person who has mastered a profession is a skeptic concerning it.” — George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright, 1925 Nobel Prize for Literature

“Large skepticism leads to large understanding. Small skepticism leads to small understanding. No skepticism leads to no understanding.” — Xi Zhi

“The skeptic does not mean him who doubts, but him who investigates or researches, as opposed to him who asserts and thinks that he has found.” — Miguel de Unamuno, Spanish author and philosopher

“Education has failed in a very serious way to convey the most important lesson science can teach: skepticism.” — David Suzuki