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Each week on Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke, explore different aspects of human behavior and the brain.

Why Scientists Don't Give Yes or No Answers

When you think of science, what comes to mind? Maybe you think about launching rockets into space, or antibiotics, or the electric car?

Maybe not. But let's say you do. If that is the case, it's more accurate to say you love what scientific developments have brought us, but not necessarily science itself.

In this edition of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke talk about what science is, why the scientific process is important to understand and why it's so difficult to communicate science to the general public.

Science is a way of figuring things out.  It's a way to test hypotheses and gather data. It's a way to try to protect ourselves from ourselves — from our own personal beliefs or biases, in search for an outcome we can't falsify.

But really, who cares? Why is it important to know the process when you have the outcome — and it's awesome?

It's important for a few reasons. One, people tend to mistrust ambiguity. We have an evolutionary advantage to knowing things for sure. We want to know if salt is going to kill us or save us,  we want to know how long we need to exercise everyday. We just want to know, then move on.

But with science, you can't really do that. When you think scientifically, you have to take into account why, how and when things happen a certain way, and under what conditions, especially when it comes to researching people. We are all different and experience the world differently, so when one condition may be favorable for one outcome, it might not have the same effect when replicated.

Another reason it's important to be aware of the science behind findings is that a lot of the communicating of science to the general public isn't done by scientists. Which means that the nuances for the findings are not always consistent with other findings, so we get frustrated, and don't believe anything.

But if we knew there were so many variables to the tests, and so many factors that go into the findings, we might not "F*&#ing Love Science." And being constantly skeptical is a tough way to be. We need to trust things, sometimes we need to believe things, because it can be really upsetting to live in a world with constant ambiguity.

Rebecca McInroy is an award-winning show creator, host, and executive producer for KUT, KUTX, and KUT.ORG.
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