Two responses to’s The World Question Center 2011: “What scientific concept would improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit?”

Human beings tend almost invariably to be better at remembering evidence that is consistent with their beliefs than evidence that might disconfirm them….Overcoming this mental weakness, known as confirmation bias, is a lifelong struggle; recognizing that we all suffer from it is an important first step.

Cognitive scientist Gary Marcus, New York University

This biotech century will be microbe enhanced and maybe microbe inspired….Confronting a difficult problem we might fruitfully ask, “What would a microbe do?”

Stewart Brand, founder of the Whole Earth Catalog; cofounder and cochairman of The Long Now Foundation

The Anthropocene, on current evidence, seems to show global change consistent with the suggestion that an epoch-scale boundary has been crossed within the last two centuries.

Jan Zalasiewicz et al., in a special...

The easiest way to manipulate the press is to embargo some result and then send a press release about it to a thousand different news organizations.

—New York Times journalist Dennis Overbye, in an interview on the blog Marketing for Scientists (Mar. 25, 2011)

Science is…an unending argument between a great multitude of voices. It resembles Wikipedia much more than it resembles the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Freeman Dyson, reviewing James Gleick’s The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood(The New York Review of Books, Mar. 10, 2011)

There is a desperate need to develop methods with the same precision for an individual’s environmental exposure as we have for the individual’s genome. I would like to suggest that there is need for an “exposome” to match the “genome.”

University of Leeds molecular epidemiologist C.P. Wild, in Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev (Aug. 2005)


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