The Baloney Detection Kit

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

  • Offline TamiW
  • Seahorse Wrangler
  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 1148
    • View Profile
  • Location: Milwaukee, Wi, USA

The Baloney Detection Kit

« posted: 3 years ago »
I spend a lot of time turning over ideas in my head about seahorse keeping, and different ways we approach information about their keeping. There are a lot of things we do as a matter of habit or best practices that I often wonder about if there is really a good reason for it or if it's been proven. For example, Protein Skimmers have gone in and out of favor with seahorses several times over.

It's true of many things in fish keeping, not just seahorses. In my mind, I feel like there are a lot of superstitions in fish keeping in general, rather than science based information. So when I stumbled upon this article about trying to separate fact from fiction, covering Carl Sagan's idea, I couldn't be more pleased at how well expressed it is. I wanted to include it here, because I think it's something everyone should think about both in fish keeping and their daily lives. From Brain Pickings:

"The kit is brought out as a matter of course whenever new ideas are offered for consideration. If the new idea survives examination by the tools in our kit, we grant it warm, although tentative, acceptance. If you’re so inclined, if you don’t want to buy baloney even when it’s reassuring to do so, there are precautions that can be taken; there’s a tried-and-true, consumer-tested method.

. . .

  • Wherever possible there must be independent confirmation of the “facts.”
  • Encourage substantive debate on the evidence by knowledgeable proponents of all points of view.
  • Arguments from authority carry little weight — “authorities” have made mistakes in the past. They will do so again in the future. Perhaps a better way to say it is that in science there are no authorities; at most, there are experts.
  • Spin more than one hypothesis. If there’s something to be explained, think of all the different ways in which it could be explained. Then think of tests by which you might systematically disprove each of the alternatives. What survives, the hypothesis that resists disproof in this Darwinian selection among “multiple working hypotheses,” has a much better chance of being the right answer than if you had simply run with the first idea that caught your fancy.
  • Try not to get overly attached to a hypothesis just because it’s yours. It’s only a way station in the pursuit of knowledge. Ask yourself why you like the idea. Compare it fairly with the alternatives. See if you can find reasons for rejecting it. If you don’t, others will.
  • Quantify. If whatever it is you’re explaining has some measure, some numerical quantity attached to it, you’ll be much better able to discriminate among competing hypotheses. What is vague and qualitative is open to many explanations. Of course there are truths to be sought in the many qualitative issues we are obliged to confront, but finding them is more challenging.
  • If there’s a chain of argument, every link in the chain must work (including the premise) — not just most of them.
    Occam’s Razor. This convenient rule-of-thumb urges us when faced with two hypotheses that explain the data equally well to choose the simpler.
  • Always ask whether the hypothesis can be, at least in principle, falsified. Propositions that are untestable, unfalsifiable are not worth much. Consider the grand idea that our Universe and everything in it is just an elementary particle — an electron, say — in a much bigger Cosmos. But if we can never acquire information from outside our Universe, is not the idea incapable of disproof? You must be able to check assertions out. Inveterate skeptics must be given the chance to follow your reasoning, to duplicate your experiments and see if they get the same result.

The article goes on to cover more about the different ways to debate your theories, I strongly recommend taking a look. But I thought this was a really good overview of how we should think about claims with aquarium keeping.

Original Source From: The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan.
  • H. erectus, H. comes, H. kuda, H. zosterae, Doryrhamphus excisus, Bryx dunckeri, Corythoichthys flavofasciatus
It's all about the snick!
  • Offline suew
  • Global Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 369
    • View Profile
  • Location: uk

Re: The Baloney Detection Kit

« Reply #1 posted: 3 years ago »

   Have shown this to my husband,to see what he thinks about this book as i'm not sure if it will be of any benefit for me I have got a few books about sh and some say do this others say don't do that.

   I've had a look at these books and I may get his latest book later on.What would you do,or have you already have some of his books.I can always get it later on.
  • abdominalis & erectus