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When Can You Trust the Experts?: How to Tell Good Science from Bad in Education by Daniel T. Willingham

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Chapter 1

Why Smart People Believe Dumb Things

It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.

—Jonathan Swift

Suppose you’re in a library, and you need to photocopy some pages from a book. You find the copy machine, and happily you discover that you have some quarters. You’re about to drop a coin in the slot when a stranger approaches you. He asks whether he can use the photocopier. Would you let the stranger use the machine, or would you politely decline, given that, after all, you were there first?

In this chapter, we will be less interested in whether or not you would comply with this request, and more interested in whether or not you would think before answering. It would seem that a social interaction—deciding ...

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