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Proverbs, aphorisms, quotations (English) by Linux fortune

Briefly stated, the findings are that when presented with an array of
data or a sequence of events in which they are instructed to discover
an underlying order, subjects show strong tendencies to perceive order
and causality in random arrays, to perceive a pattern or correlation
which seems a priori intuitively correct even when the actual correlation
in the data is counterintuitive, to jump to conclusions about the correct
hypothesis, to seek and to use only positive or confirmatory evidence, to
construe evidence liberally as confirmatory, to fail to generate or to
assess alternative hypotheses, and having thus managed to expose themselves
only to confirmatory instances, to be fallaciously confident of the validity
of their judgments (Jahoda, 1969; Einhorn and Hogarth, 1978).  In the
analyzing of past events, these tendencies are exacerbated by failure to
appreciate the pitfalls of post hoc analyses.
                -- A. Benjamin
A serious public debate about the validity of astrology?  A serious believer
in the White House?  Two of them?  Give me a break.  What stifled my laughter
is that the image fits.  Reagan has always exhibited a fey indifference toward
science.  Facts, like numbers, roll off his back.  And we've all come to
accept it.  This time it was stargazing that became a serious issue....Not
that long ago, it was Reagan's support of Creationism....Creationists actually
got equal time with evolutionists.  The public was supposed to be open-minded
to the claims of paleontologists and fundamentalists, as if the two were
scientific colleagues....It has been clear for a long time that the president
is averse to science...In general, these attitudes fall onto friendly American
turf....But at the outer edges, this skepticism about science easily turns
into a kind of naive acceptance of nonscience, or even nonsense.  The same
people who doubt experts can also believe any quackery, from the benefits of
laetrile to eye of newt to the movment of planets.  We lose the capacity to
make rational -- scientific -- judgments.  It's all the same.
-- Ellen Goodman, The Boston Globe Newspaper Company-Washington Post Writers
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