Soundings

Evidence and ideology

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.311.7015.1307 (Published 11 November 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:1307
  1. Ian Robertson, neuropsychologist
  1. Cambridge

    A word in your ear about Mr Michael Howard, if I may, but first a brief digression.

    The ability to think scientifically is our greatest evolutionary achievement. The willingness to submit cherished beliefs to experimental falsification goes against the grain of a mental apparatus programmed to confirm its own preconceptions. This “confirmatory bias” is likely to have both biological and social origins. Biologically, our perceptual systems create “templates” against which incoming information is matched to see whether or not it fits the bill. As there is seldom a perfect match between template and input, a degree of massaging of the sensory data to …

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