A New Goal: Aim To Be Less Wrong

When beginning from the assumption that you are wrong, a criticism may be easier to construe as a helpful pointer, says psychologist Tania Lombrozo.
Source: H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock

At a conference last week, I received an interesting piece of advice:

"Assume you are wrong."

The advice came from Brian Nosek, a fellow psychology professor and the executive director of the Center for Open Science. Nosek wasn't objecting to any particular claim I'd made — he was offering a strategy for pursuing better science, and for encouraging others to do the same.

To understand the context for Nosek's advice, we need to take a step back — to the nature of science itself, and to a methodological revolution that's been shaking the field of psychology.

You see, despite what many of us learned in elementary school, there is no scientific method. Just. — which we now take for granted as a method for evaluating the causal efficacy of a drug — was a methodological innovation. — which is often taken for granted as a method for evaluating the probability that an outcome was due to chance alone — was a methodological innovation.

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