The scientific method works so well because other people double-check your experiments and test your theories. Our cognitive biases limit our ability to willingly disprove our own ideas. No method accounts for our strange attempt to defend our hypotheses rather than falsify them.

Specialists have the most knowldege within their field. This gives them the toolset to critically evaluate someone else’s ideas within their specialty. But take them out of that narrow field and insert them into a different field or politics where they lack information, and they will adopt a simplistic explain-all fantasy belief. They turn into “slogan-chanting zombies.”

No one is a consistent skeptic.

In the hard sciences, there is more rigour and immediate fact-checking through peer-review and clear proofs. In softer sciences and in politics, truth is more difficult to uncover. This means bad ideas can linger and people can fervantly believe in them.

In the military sciences, this is called “Victory Disease.” Victorious armies and generals don’t like to evaluate and criticize decisions that led to victory so they tend to keep repeating these decisions until they result in catastrophic defeat. Eventually, bad ideas are proven wrong – it just takes longer.

From the linked CSICOP article, the author points out that Einstein for all his genius in physics, had a simplistic understanding of politics. He was insufficiently skeptical about communism and the Soviet Union partly because he knew very little about the politics and economics in that field. His political ideas are absurd in a way that is uncomfortable today, yet must have been fashionable when he was alive.

The point is that we are all weak. Bayesian reasoning and incremental updating of our knowledge is too difficult to do all the time. So there is no such thing as a “consistent skeptic”:

A “consistent skeptic” continually subjects his or her beliefs to possible modification based upon an objective evaluation of further evidence. While beliefs can be modified, research shows that we all possess biases that not only typically strengthen existing beliefs (both true and false), but often maintain beliefs in light of strong contradictory evidence. We will briefly discuss three relevant biases inhibiting consistent skepticism: the confirmation bias, biased assimilation, and belief perseverance

I’d go further than just biases. I think human beings are lazy.

There are fields of knowledge where we know very little about as individuals. We can spend decades and decades of our life learning about these fields only to reach an incomplete understanding. Alternatively, we can make up a fantasy belief which explains it all in a day or two.

Why bother understanding meteorology if you can just blame God instead? Not that God minds or anything.

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