From climate skeptics to anti-vaxxers: Science explains why humans are so good at being wrong

And science teaches us how to see through these fallacies and continue to stay curious about the world

Published July 1, 2014 1:50PM (EDT)

Kristin Cavallari, Jenny McCarthy, Jim Carrey           (Reuters/Fred Prouser/AP/Charles Sykes/Paul A. Hebert)
Kristin Cavallari, Jenny McCarthy, Jim Carrey (Reuters/Fred Prouser/AP/Charles Sykes/Paul A. Hebert)

Did you ever play old-school Nintendo? Did you ever blow on the cartridge to make it work? Did you know why you were doing this? Well, this technique for getting your game to work wasn't actually doing anything. So why did we do it?

Joe Hanson at PBS Digital Studio's "It's Okay to Be Smart" explains why humans are so susceptible to such logical fallacies -- like blowing on a cartridge. "Why are we so good at being wrong?" Hanson asks.

In the simplest of terms, human brains are pretty darn good at seeing patterns: This helped us out when we were figuring out that the red berries made us sick, but the blue berries were safe to eat.

It turns out that "our brains are so good at picking up patterns, sometime we see them when they're not there," Hanson explains. This leads us to look at conclusions and filter out all other evidence that doesn't support our conclusions. (For example, climate deniers, who somehow filter out 97 percent of climate scientists who say that man-made climate change is real.)

Science is a way to grind down those fallacies and see past the tricks our brain plays on us.

"Science, above all else, requires a desire to disprove ourselves," Hanson says. "It's that sharp tool that we use to poke holes in our ideas to make sure that they'll float."

As Hanson says, "Stay curious," and watch the eye-opening video below:

h/t It's Okay to Be Smart

By Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email

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Anti-vaxxers Climate Skeptics It's Okay To Be Smart Jenny Mccarthy Science Video Wrong