Simple Rules to Not Be An Idiot
01may19
  • Don’t believe anyone who tells you that they’re right and smarter people with more education are wrong. Especially if they say god told them so.

  • Don’t believe anyone who tells you that a whole lot of other people believe them, without a list of names that includes well-known educated people, and confirmation directly from those people that they really do believe it.

  • Don’t believe studies, unless you can and do follow through and look up the sources.

    • Don’t believe the sources if they primarily publish articles that contradict other sources, or if they are focused only on a particular viewpoint.
    • Don’t believe the sources if they are youtube videos, sites that have gone down, sites that don’t end in ‘.com’ or ‘.edu’ (flip a coin on ‘.org’. A five-sided coin.)
    • Don’t believe sites with popups that say scary things, with garish colors, tacky formatting, or graphs that claim to explain everything. Science is boring and unformatted.
    • If a source is boring and inpenetrable and you have no idea what it means, it’s probably good, but don’t believe what only ONE other source says about it, because they’re probably lying.
    • If a source is professional and slick, it is probably well-funded bullshit - red flag, but not always.
    • Don’t believe sources if they mention neurasthenia or fibromyalgia; ADHD, OCD, autism, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimers and any kind of “syndrome” are red flags but not disqualifiers. EVERYTHING is “linked to death.”
    • Don't believe anything that mentions a cure or cause for cancer. Cancer isn't one thing. If something says it's a cure or a cause for cancer in general, it is automatically wrong.
    • Don’t believe sources if THEIR sources are any of those things. Don’t believe sources without sources. Follow the rabbit hole.
  • Don’t believe graphs.

  • Don’t believe anyone who tells you more than 0.01% of the population is lying to you.

  • Don’t believe your eyes or your personal anecdotal experience if it contradicts science. Especially if you don’t understand science. You do not have enough data.

  • Believe Wikipedia, but only if it says the same thing on several different days. Don’t believe the parts that say “some people claim”. Learn to read the edit history.

    • While you’re there, go look up something you do know about and fix it if it’s wrong, using proper citations. Thank you.
  • Patents mean nothing. Patent pending means less than nothing. Making a big deal about something being patented as a reason to trust it is a HUGE red flag. It just means they filled out a form and paid a fee.

  • When a business says something is coming “within five years” it means probably never, that’s just what they’re telling investors.

  • When a government entity says something is coming “within five years”, it probably already happened and they just don’t get it.

  • If the title of an article ends with a question mark, the answer is probably “no.”

  • Any article that says a new study tells you something you want to hear or that scares you, it’s just a journalist fishing for a story.

  • When something new comes out, don’t stick it in your mouth or up your butt.

    • Unless lots of doctors and scientists tell you to stick it in your mouth or up your butt, then do that.
    • Do not confuse the two.
  • Don’t trust doctors TOO much unless they’re talking about something with more than 20 years of history. What do you call someone who graduated at the bottom of his class in med school? A doctor. Plenty of them are idiots.

  • Don’t trust INDIVIDUAL scientists too much, their job is to ask stupid questions, sometimes they paint themselves into a corner, and there’s no rules about who can call themselves a scientist. Trust them in bunches.

  • Don’t trust groups of scientists that are self-selected.

  • Don’t trust scientific results until they are confirmed, many, many times by many independent sources. You can make ONE study say anything you want.

  • Don’t believe lawmakers. They generally have no domain knowledge about anything but kissing ass and getting elected.

  • Do mostly trust government sources, but take the most and least funded ones with a grain of salt; the former are likely influenced by business, the latter by stupidity.

  • When in doubt, believe Neil Degrasse Tyson.

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