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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

A banner day for me on reddit

By Phil Plait

Well, wow. This is an honor: put up a quote of mine on their science section:

Right there in the middle is a quotation from me: "Teach a man to reason, and he'll think for a lifetime." That was from my speech The Goals of Skepticism (commonly referred to as my Don't Be A Dick speech), which I gave at TAM a couple of years ago.

There it is, highlighted. I'm really happy to see that. I liked the phrase when I came up with it, and it's popped up here and there (like on a mug, and in a Symphony of Science).

The only thing that bugs me about the phrase is the use of the masculine gender. I struggled to make the phrase more neutral, but since it's based on an existing aphorism -- "Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime" -- I couldn't phrase it that way without removing it too much from the original, and thus losing the hook. Oh well.

Anyway, I still like the sentiment. We tend to spend a lot of time arguing specific examples of bad thinking -- antivax, global warming denial, and so on -- but not as much on having the tools necessary to prevent ourselves from having our thinking go astray. Happily, there are places on the web you can go, like Tim Farley's Skeptools site, the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast (which commonly uses examples of bad thinking to make a bigger picture of how to think), and of course Carl Sagan's Baloney Detection Kit from his masterpiece book, The Demon Haunted World.

Heck, stop reading this and go buy that book right now if you haven't already. It is the basic tome that will have you thinking for a lifetime.

Tip o' the fishing pole to Starstuff_3 on Twitter.

Related Posts:

- Don't Be A Dick Part 1: the video
- A reasonable mug
- New Symphony of Science: Wave of Reason
- Science IS Imagination

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