Lawrence Krauss on How to Develop Your Critical Thinking Skills

Lawrence Krauss on How to Develop Your Critical Thinking Skills


One of my favorite quotes, which I’ve used
in my writing, comes from the former publisher of The New York Times who said, “I’d like
to keep an open mind, but not so open that my brains fall out.” And that’s the key point. We have to skeptically assess the information
we receive, we can’t be gullible because when we get a lot of information it’s absolutely
certain that some of that information is wrong and so we have to always filter what we get
and we have to ask ourselves the following question: how open does my brain have to be
to accept that information? Does it have to fall out? And by that I mean, when someone tells you
something you have to ask: is this consistent with my experience? Is it consistent with the experience of other
people around me? And if it isn’t then probably there’s a good
reason to be skeptical about it—it’s probably wrong. If it makes predictions that also appear to
be in disagreement with things that you observe around you, you should question it. And so we should never take anything on faith. That’s really the mantra of science, if you
want, that faith is the enemy of science. We often talk about a loss of faith in the
world today; you don’t lose anything by losing faith. What you gain is reality. And so skepticism plays a key role in science
simply because we also are hardwired to want to believe, we’re hardwired to want to find
reasons for things. In the savanna in Africa, the trees could
be rustling and you could choose to say, ‘Well there’s no reason for that,’ or, ‘Maybe it’s
due to a lion.’ And those individuals who thought there might
be no reason never lived long enough to survive to procreate, and so it’s not too surprising
we want to find explanations for everything and we create them if we need to, to satisfy
ourselves, because we need to make sense of the world around us. And what we have to understand is, what makes
sense to the universe is not the same as what makes sense to us and we can’t impose our
beliefs on the universe. And the way we get around that inherent bias
is by constantly questioning both ourselves and all the information we receive from others. That’s what we do in science and it works
beautifully in the real world as well. When you’re presented with questions or answers
about any problem there are a few questions you can ask yourself, that you should ask
yourself right away. First of all, you can ask yourself, ‘Do I
like this answer?’ And if you do you should be suspicious because
you’re much more likely to accept something that appeals to you whether it’s right or
not. So if you inherently like something in some
sense that’s a reason to be almost more suspicious of it, if you’re a scientist. But then you can ask the question, when you’re
presented with information, is that information consistent with what I know already based
on data I’ve taken about the world around me? And by data, it’s not just scientists. If you’re a child—all children do this—you
put your hand in a flame, okay, the second time you know not to because you have the
data that it hurt the first time. And if someone that tells you, ‘That flame
isn’t going to hurt,’ you have the data to assess that that’s probably wrong. So you want to ask yourself: is that information
consistent with what I know to be true already? And the other thing to do, especially if you
get information from a source you don’t know, is to look at many different sources and compare
them and see if they all agree. If they all agree it doesn’t guarantee it’s
right but if there’s vast disagreement between the different sources then it’s highly likely
that you can’t at least rely on that information to be true. It’s the same way science works: science doesn’t
prove what’s absolutely true, what it does is prove what’s absolutely false. What doesn’t satisfy the test or experiment
we throw out. What remains may not be true but we shrink
it down, as Sherlock Holmes would say, and what remains after all of that is done is
likely to be true. So many sources, question what you see and
whether it’s consistent with what you already know, and be suspicious of your own likes
and dislikes when you accept information. That’s probably the reason we shouldn’t, when
we turn it to the Internet, go to echo chambers and just read the sources that we like. Now having said that, if you look at many
sources you could also quickly decide which ones are not reliable and throw them out. If they’re not reliable in one case then you
should be highly suspicious of them in the future. So we all turn to different sources that we
think are more or less reliable based on our past experience. Try that and I think it’s one great way to
filter out a lot of the nonsense on the Internet.When I talk about being skeptical it is important
to recognize that you could be surprised and something that you don’t think is sensible
can end up being a sensible. That’s the way we learn things in physics. So when someone presents you with an idea
that may seem strange it’s reasonable to be skeptical of it, but it’s worth pursuing long
enough to see if it might make sense and to listen to arguments that might be convincing
that might cause you to change your mind. In fact there’s a great school of pedagogy
that says: the only way we actually learn anything is by confronting our own misconceptions. So once again, while it’s reasonable to be
skeptical of external information, if you’re always skeptical of your response to information
and what your misconceptions are and what your prejudices are, then you will both guide
yourself not to accept nonsense but also you will be willing to realize that sometimes
what you think is skepticism is really myopia.

100 Comments on "Lawrence Krauss on How to Develop Your Critical Thinking Skills"


  1. "Hey stupids, heres a run on for you, think about crap before you spew it out of your mouth or absorb it into the measly amount of grey matter not drowned in antidepressants, youre not a damn furby. if you dont know what a furby is you could be counted among the lucky, but probably more likely to resemble one. by the way, you genitals are smaller than the probability of your dreams coming true. you suck better luck next year. i swear if i wasnt so sure your kind was outbreeding ours, all the riches in the land couldn't get me up here so say s#!+ thats so obvious. If my mind went with the economy id be depending on you, that's a scary thought worth thinking about." L.K. translated by K.O.

    "What did i just say, start thinking. consistent with experiences, get some new friends because maybe its not true, its just your all to damn stupid. it may be easier to deal with people of like mindedness but an absent of debate may be an absent of thought. By the way cartoons show you whats going on in the world better than news outlets. news is for misinformation, and dividing the masses (thats you, your stupid and full of hate, how does it feel to have less of a grip on the world than a 7 year old because even if your one of the dumb A5535 that thinks im saying cartoons are fine for procreating adults, the seven year old doesnt have the bias. but then again your probably not likely to get a crayon stuck in your nose. so there you go you may be smarter than one average american child, so that's lazy and obese(avg) so buy yourself a box of crayons, and then sit on them."

    Reply

  2. Ty for this. ive been talking about this ever since i worked for the sanders campaign and confronted the front lines of this battle which was online comment sections, social media etc. Over the 1 1/2 years i debated hrc supporters then later trump supporters and at the very end, other bernie supporters and all 3 groups seemed to lack any desire to critically think for themselves. instead they reaffirm their own opinions by making sure their filters keep out anything that they may not agree with and even when spoon fed multiple credible sources as well as opposing viewpoints so all they had to do was take 5 min to read and then compare and contrast it to form a genuine opinion that is their own but even that was too much work for them. i noticed my arguments changed significantly over time, where i once argued for sanders, over the final year or so, i was trying to convince ppl to just apply the process of critically thinking before voting… not as a joke either i mean literally spelling it out step by step because 80% or so of ppl seem to be completely ignorant of the opposing arguments to the issues they support and how anyone can say their view is their own if they havent even compared both sides of the debate. regurgitating the views of someone else without first validating the sources, checking for as many different sources as possible and most importantly include as many different viewpoints as possible. like i generally fear for the future if america can truly no longer critically think cause its thanks to that process we became who we are today and quite frankly our founding fathers expected more from us.

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  3. 2 citates from me:
    1. "The possibilities of the universe are endless, but it can be as hard to imagine as to imagine a new color."
    2. "If we come to a Point in time when we will "know" the universal truth of everything, how can we really know it is the truth?"

    Thats my crash course in critical thinking. Enjoy! 😀

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  4. "If we pretend gods are as "Alive" as we are, How can a god know if it is living in a simulation or not"?

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  5. Could the idea that "Faith is the enemy of science" be the biggest example in our times of the myopia that we should resist? Ask yourself? Do you like that idea? If yes, then you should be more skeptical of it! Have you really looked at all the respectable sources? Or are you enjoying he comfort of your echo chambers and hardly know anything outside it? I love the approach LK talks about here, but it should be applied to some of the "facts" mentioned in it.

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  6. 11th grade year I took a class called critical thinking… Two years later and I feel BLESSED.. That was legit the only class besides maybe CPR that prepared me for the real world!

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  7. If lose faith lose progress ! reality is relative because​ our perception can be in ilusyon ……..

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  8. yes I went through this process, and arguably still doing so. but when your faith eventually is replaced, reality is far more comforting in many ways. first my dreams were scary, then strange. this to me was a subconscious change over. it takes time, but it is most certainly worth it. thanks

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  9. The discovery of DNA etc etc etc it didn't make sense to them because it hadn't been discovered and therefore there was nothing to question as there was no reference. Therefore this synopsis is flawed.

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  10. when you hate someone, they could walk on water and they will complain you can't swim.

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  11. The wealthy elites who control everything, like our schooling, don't want people to question everything. Because then people will question the corrupt system, why socialism and communism are "bad", why capitalism is "so good", why should all the power be concentrated in the hands of the few, why businesses are run like dictatorships, why there's endless war against the invisible enemy known as "terrorists", why America is an imperialist police state, why capitalist democracies actually aren't democracies, why military spending and corporate tax breaks are being increased, why the poor have to suffer when it's actually possible to remove world poverty just by using the top 0.01% wealth, why the major news outlets are funded by the wealthy who then have control over everything the outlet reports and say, why wealthy psychopaths get to control the means of production, why isn't the government budget being used for social services and science, etc

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  12. if only bill Nye was more of a science guy like Lawrence Krauss is. more than two sexes/genders… get out of here with that nonsense.

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  13. So what do we do then with all the "sources" about anti-vaccination, moon hoaxes, flat-earthers and climate change deniers? I mean I don't believe them , but if you don't know much about the subjects, you might easily be convinced by these conspiracy theories. In fact, there might be a lot more websites that promote anti-vaccination than those that promote vaccination.

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  14. No wonder scientist never make money. They are always evaluating while we go ahead and do it…

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  15. FYI, your brains fell out because you think mindless unguided objects made you so you are no different than any other voodoo pagan that ever lived.

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  16. It's a good advice, but if you're an atheist be doubly skeptical of your beliefs. You are in the minority and thus are more likely to be wrong. Stay curious.

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  17. so if you believe that the universe came from nothing you are thinking critically.

    yeah right.

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  18. If only Lawrence developed his critical thinking skills when it comes to evaluating political issues.

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  19. This talk was pretty mediocre imo. And you definitely can lose something when you lose faith. Whether or not that's worth it is a different question.

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  20. You have a lot of Faith in Science. Ironic. Personal Bias and beliefs are what scientist have, too. When you base your ideology, what science is, on purely physical terms, not knowing where this physical universe comes from. Your logic in believing that science is more rational, than say religion, is pointless. Scientist approach the world through only the 5 senses, as if the five senses are what created the Universe. As long as you objectify your approach to knowledge, you'll always be another form of religion. Einstein gave a clue in how to experience physical reality, if you truly wish to learn but you "scientist" just keep ignoring his message.

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  21. Great concept. But since LK is against International Space Station then I've to take his concepts skeptically 🙂

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  22. did you question if that hat looks good or not?

    skepticism is key for understanding the physical world, bug the inner world of meaning benefits from some faith in some things: I am worth love, I have value, and the same for my neighbor.

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  23. Is there an afterlife? Maybe or maybe not. "it is simply impossible to directly prove a purely negative claim." (That's the logical law "sceptics" tend to forget). Will atheism get you in trouble in that case? Maybe. Will not being an atheist get you in trouble in this world? Not necessarily. Perception of reality for example is not only a matter of being an atheist or not but of intelligence, self discipline and education. So I have logically proven, that you gain nothing by being an atheist.

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  24. I suggest, you use the thoughts in this video ON the video itself. And just for fun here is a question. Is there empirical evidence to support the assumption that parallel lines never meet? Let us not confuse belief with faith. They are not synonymous.

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  25. I like Lawrence Krauss, especially when he discredits and reveals the multitude of falsehoods in religion. With that said, following his advice about presuming something to be true because a good amount of "credible" sources have agreed is flawed. There were numerous amounts of "credible" sources that predicted that Hillary would win but I live in Jamaica and I could see that Trump would win. It was so lucid that you had to be lying if you denied it.

    Ironically, that's exactly what they did. LIE.

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  26. Krauss assumes that everything is known or knowable. If that were true, I'd agree with him on most anything. But the truth is that is that there is very little that is known by the microscope of the scientific method. Both believers and atheists have their leaps of faith. In the 1920s, Hubble showed that the universe was not static and finite but instead was rapidly expanding and had no detectable limit. If you accepted this discovery, you had to come to the conclusion that the universe had a beginning – creation. A battle raged on this discovery until 1961 when Wilson and Penzias detected the Cosmic Microwave Background which put an end to the "creation" controversy: there was a moment of creation. I hate to bring it up, but this squares with the Genesis account, maybe not in detail, but there it is. Then there is the "first cause" argument: how did the first of anything pop into existence? Was it created, or did it just pop into existence from something else? I mean it popped and never left any trace of how A turned into B even though there are many thousands of differences between A and B that had to occur simultaneously at the moment of pop. I'm in no position to judge how good or bad a physicist Krauss is, but his views on God and the universe have lots of gaps. As for his statement on losing faith; when you lose faith, you lose faith – you don't gain anything. Reality remains the same.

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  27. Here is some "critical thinking" YOU, Larry, might want to try, but you won't.

    How about taking a tiny fraction of the TRILLIONS of dollars that have been, and will be spent by YOU and your ELITE science buddies, at CERN, and do some real world good , that could stop the suffering of millions of human beings, just a tiny little bit, Larry.

    But, no, YOU never talk about the EXPENSE of your new TOY, do YOU? Only the positive spin that benefits YOU and the hundreds of contractors making billions in the long term.

    Sorry, Larry, some of out here are not impressed by your credentials, your expertise, or your PRAISE of the LHC , CERN, when these kind of criminal expenditures are involved. I love science, but there must be a limit on spending "relative" to the needs of society….you ELITES, have no limit, because the "real world" is of no concern, huh, Larry?

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  28. in order to seek truth you have to be constantly seeking truth…you cannot stop an say now i know the truth…you have to be always open to looking for the truth…the only way to find truth is through group discussion….otherwise its just everyone giving there own opinion an very often they are wrong…so keep an open mind an keep an open discussion.

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  29. Wish people would stop being gullible about the CIA/NSA information.. they have a history of lying and misleading and doing things that aren't in the best interest of our nation… and the media has become the same… and no, that doesn't mean trust Trump either. Trump has a history of lying as well….fuck em all

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  30. "Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones." – Bertrand Russel.

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  31. Sources like CNN… I've thrown it out based on my previous experience knowing that it's unreliable.

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  32. I talk about understanding but can't see the shortcomings of capitalism. And I never heard about a resource based economy as defined by the Zeitgeist movement, TZM.

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  33. I'm losing friends because of my forward thinking in science and nature, 🍏 but i will persevere and will try and leave this world in better place ❤

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  34. This twat should practice what he preaches here. He is an arrogant, egotistical know it all who throws his dummy out the cot whenever he is challenged.

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  35. "if you don't believe in my primitive world view your brains are falling out" (I just summed up the video, no need to watch)

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  36. @0.44 "Is this consistent with my experience? Is it consistent with the experience of other people around me?" – Laurence Krauss

    – This is the problem of widespread false beliefs. When everyone around you shares the same beliefs, that makes those experiences consistent.

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  37. Hahaha, what would Krauss know about critical thinking skills? The guy literally believes that at one point all of the matter in the entire universe was compressed into a single point smaller than the period at the end of this sentence. And he calls himself a critical thinker?

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  38. The first question should be, do I like this answer…

    So I asked myself if I liked that advice and I didn't. I like to accept things that I like. And then I laughed at myself for thinking that. That simple advice actually worked. I didn't like it, so maybe I should investigate honestly and when I did I found out that the advice is sound and it works and that I am now thinking in circles because I applied the method on the method to see if it works and I didn't like it but it works and that just made me burst out in laughter :p

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  39. Faith is the excuse people give to believe in nonsensical claims without reason and evidence.

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  40. Krause is awesome!! People like him have made science cool!! We need more like him and Tyson and the like!!

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  41. "You don't lose anything by losing faith, what you gain is reality". That is a really important statement. I think many people see the opposite of faith as some kind of cynicism and despair. "I have lost faith in you", or whatever. But, to be cynical is not to be rational. That is as irrational as blind faith. A cynical person, by definition, draws the wrong conclusions and hence is irrational.

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  42. Lol guys, its not even about faith in god, its about brain bias, dont know where that storm came from!

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  43. America has massively corrupted science .

    "Most scientists 'can't replicate studies by their peers'

    The problem, it turned out, was not with Marcus Munafo's science, but with the way the scientific literature had been "tidied up" to present a much clearer, more robust outcome.

    "What we see in the published literature is a highly curated version of what's actually happened," he says.
    "The trouble is that gives you a rose-tinted view of the evidence because the results that get published tend to be the most interesting, the most exciting, novel, eye-catching, unexpected results.
    "What I think of as high-risk, high-return results."

    The reproducibility difficulties are not about fraud, according to Dame Ottoline Leyser, director of the Sainsbury Laboratory at the University of Cambridge.

    That would be relatively easy to stamp out. Instead, she says: "It's about a culture that promotes impact over substance, flashy findings over the dull, confirmatory work that most of science is about."

    She says it's about the funding bodies that want to secure the biggest bang for their bucks, the peer review journals that vie to publish the most exciting breakthroughs, the institutes and universities that measure success in grants won and papers published and the ambition of the researchers themselves

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-39054778

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  44. Richard Horton – editor of The Lancet

    The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness. As one participant put it, “poor methods get results”. The Academy of Medical Sciences, Medical Research Council, and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council have now put their reputational weight behind an investigation into these questionable research practices.

    http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(15)60696-1/fulltext?rss%3Dyes

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  45. Pielke, an expert on expertise (who gave evidence to the US senate) on the really obvious reasons why one should never trust approved (science) experts

    If the practice of science advice is to improve, scientific leaders in and outside government will have to show a deeper commitment to strengthening institutions of scientific advice. This means that some scientific leaders should step back from the political battles of the day.
    For instance, Ann Glover, chief scientific adviser to the president of the European Commission, recently complained that politicians often seek out scientific advice to support a particular agenda. She said politicians routinely ask their experts to, “Find me the evidence that demonstrates that this is the case.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/science/political-science/2014/aug/26/government-science-advice-honest-brokers

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  46. im going with that is 101 dislikes from religious idiots.. and no i dont think everyone that is religious are idiots.. but if you disliked what he said because of that then yes you are an idiot.

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  47. "Loss of Faith" needs to be changed to something like "rejection of Faith" or "Obsolescence of Faith"

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  48. myopia — my·o·pi·a — mīˈōpēə — noun — nearsightedness.
    lack of imagination, foresight, or intellectual insight.
    "historians have been censured for their myopia in treating modern science as a western phenomenon"

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  49. 11 Faith is the assured expectation of things hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities though not beheld
    Hebrews 11:1 …. Just thought a definition would be helpful.

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  50. Enter "nonbeliefism".

    Belief in anything is worthless/irrelevant, especially when science is true, whether or not one believes in it.

    (nonbeliefism point com)

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  51. Yeah this is kind of narrow minded what if all of your friends are of the same nationality? And you try to asses the data based on similar data. Your answer could be wrong. I get what he's saying but it's outdated.

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  52. Many religions and the tribalism/ethnocentrism/misogyny that they inspire are anachronistic relics that are a detriment to all life on the one planet we can live on, so must therefore be phased out. It can be a gradual withdraw, after all, long-term addictions are not easy to overcome all at once, but it IS possible & of critical importance to the world. We are all kin, hate must die out!

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  53. In a universe where nearly anything is POSSIBLE, Scientific Method is, by far, the best way to determine what is most PROBABLE!   BTW, Dr. Krauss' "A Universe from Nothing" blew my mind!

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  54. Could somebody create a YOUTUBE for SCIENCE, DOCUMENTARIES….and the like….KEEPING OUT RELIGIOUS AND NONSENSE…..

    Keep SCIENCE ALIVE!!!!

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  55. I love the 'finger in the flame' analogy. Mainly because not all flames burn at the same temperature. Some fuels/substances are actually known to 'burn cool'.

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  56. the only point i disagree with is 'reliability' .. is there not such a device in narrative fiction called .. the 'unreliable author' ?

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  57. What if your experiences are not entirely indicative of truth? E.g. I have not seen a Black Swan, therefore there are no Black Swans.

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  58. A superb summary of critical thinking skills in six minutes, very well done Dr. Krauss and the filming/editing team at Big Think. From an overview on how to filter out incorrect information to a set of rules on how to steer oneself towards correct information, this was great. Also, the point about constantly being skeptical of ones own prejudices and biases is a very important one.

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  59. Faith in science is not different to faith in a religious belief. It is still a faith. How can anybody say he knows enough to tell the difference between reality and mere faith, considering the immense quantity of knowledge that exists and the incredibly tiny fraction that a person can get to know in its lifetime. Nobody can tell where faith ends and where reality starts, even if the person feels sufficiently superior. Actually nothing can be done without faith. And be it faith in natural laws, like the faith that you can fall asleep without having to worry if you will keep on breathing or that if you jump gravity will bring you back to the ground. The strict seperation between faith and "reality" of atheist neo-liberals lacks of logic and is more a psycologic mechanism in order to reject the undeniable past.

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  60. Scientists know we have a genome e.g. do you believe that genome has an architecture that can motivate a certain type of mental function??? Can it help you prevent destroying your health mentally and physically??? Please talk about this so everyone can hear you.

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  61. 0:50 – 1:00
    "Is this consistent with my experience or the people around me…
    and if it isn't… then it's probably wrong."

    This is poor logic, suggesting that just because we haven't observed something that it likely isn't true.
    This is the core that promotes ignorance and bias.

    He redeams himself by quoting:
    "The only way we learn anything is by confronting our own misconceptions"

    I want to like parts of what he says here a lot, but it's just on the uncanny valley for me of big ideas juuuust slightly missing the point. Like a few great ideas glued together the wrong way.

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  62. The last person i would look to for advice about what I believe is Krauss.

    This is what
    atheistic evolutionists believe, without any observable and testable evidence.

    That life arose
    from non-life. Refuted by the Law of Biogenesis which has never been disproved.

    That a first
    cell evolved into all life we see today. Never observed to have happened.

    That one type of
    animal can evolve into another type of animal. Never observed to have happened.

    That coded,
    complex and specified biological information can arise by time and chance. Such
    information only comes from an intelligent source.

    That the
    universe, and all matter and energy, arose from absolutely nothing. Untestable
    and unobserved and illogical.

    That the Earth is 4.55 billion years old. (They like to throw in that extra .05 to make it look more scientific.)

    Most believe
    that there is life elsewhere in the universe. Zero evidence.

    They believe
    that dinosaurs evolved into birds. No observable or testable evidence, but it
    is all they have.

    They believe
    that the fossil record supports Darwinism. Refuted by paleontologists.

    They believe
    that vestigial organs point to a common ancestor. A loss, not a gain, of
    information.

    They believe in
    convergent evolution. A mental construct. (That amuses the heck out of me!)

    They believe in
    uniformitarianism. Even though we see catastrophe all the time.

    They believe in
    whale evolution. Another theory that has been acknowledged to have been faked.

    They believe
    there is massive amounts of junk Dna, discredited now by science.

    They believe
    that there is no objective basis for morality. 100 million people killed in the
    last century by atheistic tyrants.

    They believe the
    human eye, which works extremely well, is poorly designed.

    They believe
    that dinosaurs died off 65 million years ago despite the overwhelming evidence
    to the contrary.

    They believe
    there is no God of the bible.

    There is no
    observable and testable science that supports any of these beliefs.

    Many of these
    beliefs are anti known science.

    Atheistic
    Darwinism is a religion masquerading as science.

    Reply

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