David J Helfand is the chairman of the American Institute of Physics, past President of the American Astronomical Society, and has been a faculty member at Columbia University for 45 years. He’s authored nearly 200 scientific publications and mentored 22 Ph.D. students. But most of his teaching has involved teaching science to non-science majors. David instituted the first change in Columbia’s core curriculum in 50 years by introducing science to all first-year students. David’s book is A Survival Guide to the Misinformation Age: Scientific Habits of Mind.
In this interview on the School for Good Living podcast, David joins Brilliant to discuss how living a bit more skeptically with scientific habits of mind can help you improve the quality of your thinking, your life, and even the world. With all the information that we’re producing every single day, it’s hard to know what to pay attention to, what to make it mean, and what to do as a result. Our challenge today is not the scarcity of information, but the overabundance of it. But David helps navigate a course that hopefully will result in our survival and our thriving for not only us as humans but all of life.
“Throughout human history, information has been limited, difficult to access, and expensive.”
This week on the School for Good Living Podcast:
- Why accurate information has devolved over time
- What is the difference between truth, meaning, and understanding
- How to approach verifying and qualifying facts
- Why astronomy can be considered a good use of taxpayer money
- What are dark matter and dark energy and why are they so hard to define
- How to be skeptical without being negative
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