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2010-10-06 06:45 am (UTC)
In the United States, at least, schools rarely teach anything about probability or statistics. As a result, most people have no idea what means to have statistically significant evidence for something, so they treat anecdotes and stochastic trends as meaningful phenomena. There is an excess of certitude about things for which there is no real evidence, and the easiest way to address this, in my opinion, it to teach statistics. Not the complicated mathematical parts, just the basic philosophy and concepts. A book like
The Drunkard's Walk
would not be too difficult for a high school student, and it would go a long way toward getting people to question what they think to be true.
Although I'll add, in my opinion, it does no harm to "search" for bigfoot. We do need people to be curious and open-minded. The problem arises when people assume without searching that bigfoot (or whatever other target of faith) is real, and act upon their unfounded beliefs.
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