“The Fine Art of Baloney Detection”

the-demon-haunted-world-q3jfla5kHere at the library we think a lot about research and information literacy. In short, we think about helping students to develop the skills which will empower them to understand an information need, to be able to identify the best sources, and to be able to critically evaluate that information for credibility, reliability, veracity, and to follow where the evidence leads. All of these skills are essential for writing good papers but are equally important to being savvy information consumers as professionals, citizens, and individuals who operate in a world of often dubious if not outright misleading claims.

One could call this skill set and the ability to employ it in your own writing critical thinking ability. But, I prefer to call it  a “Baloney Detection Kit.” The late great Carl Sagan coined this phrase to denote:

“…the means to construct, and to understand, a reasoned argument and—especially important—to recognize a fallacious or fraudulent argument. The question is not whether we like the conclusion that emerges out of a train of reasoning, but whether the conclusion follows from the premise or starting point and whether that premise is true.”

To build your “Baloney Detection Kit” with the tools for skeptical (or critical) thinking proposed by Dr. Sagan check out The Demon Haunted World: Science As A Candle In The Dark from the library.


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