What’s the Worst that Could Happen?

Greg Craven’s book, What’s the Worst that Could Happen?, is an excellent text on critical thinking, applied to the climate change problem. He focuses on sorting through claims which range from “This is the biggest threat in human history” all the way to “No, this is the biggest hoax in history.”

Several tens of pages are devoted to looking at the sources we use. He begins with the ways we deceive ourselves.

So now that you fear your own brain, what can you do to domesticate it? As with all problems, the first step is admitting you have one. This really is the hardest part… The higher the stakes, the greater care you probably want to take in forming your opinion, and having an alarm set up to warn you that you are on fertile ground for confirmation bias.”

Craven suggests ways to fight our own confirmation bias. These include making a list of things that could change our mind, and looking for sources more trustworthy than our biases.

He has some excellent exercises, which demonstrate his own process, different from mine, and different from yours.

An excellent reason to go to sources: to overcome the ideas I bring into the discussion. I realized that early on in my own process, that I had (and still have) preconceptions as well as ignorance, and so found sources I trust more than myself.

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