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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 7

Step Three: Analyze It

Most institutions demand unqualified faith; but the institution of science makes skepticism a virtue.

—Robert K. Merton1

Let’s pretend that it’s 2005 and that you hear about Brain Gym, a program of physical movements that the Web site claims “enhance[s] learning and performance in ALL areas.”2 The front page of the Web site from 2005 claims that the program is used in more than eighty countries and that the company has been in business for more than thirty years, so there seem to be plenty of people who find it valuable. The Web site headline tugs at both Enlightenment and Romantic heartstrings: “Brain Gym develops the brain’s neural pathways the way nature does . . .”

Even though it’s 2005, long before When Can ...

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