How to Think Like a True Scientist

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There are all kinds of sciences, from chemistry to art studies. Regardless of field, great scientist have these following mindsets in common. Further still, you do not have to be in academia to use the scientific methods. Indeed, you should use such methods as often as possible. Here are 3 things to know.

1. You should Obsess about Precision
This cannot be understated. Precision is incredibly important, since how you define, measure and analyze data dramatically affects the outcome. You ruin the entire research project if you have poorly defined variables to start with, since even if you find something interesting, you cannot draw any real conclusions. Unfortunately, this is something even professional researchers mess-up, due to time-pressure and related factors. Obviously, everything in moderation, so there is no point in instigating an infinite analytical regress for every undertaking.

2. Be Neutral: Pretend you are an Alien from Outer Space
Many scientists are actually biased. Which should not be very surprising, given that scientists are inherently very passionate about a given topic, and it is natural to develop bias towards ones previous conclusions. Someone who e.g. wrote their Ph.D. on how economic factors precipitated WWII is unlikely to discredit that explanation later on. We have all heard the idiom “there are lies, damned lies and statistics”, and the truth is that it is very easy to construe data in order to fit your preconceptions. National, religious, political and other affiliations affect how you study and interpret on a more general level. An atheist will likely draw some very different conclusions when studying religious material, than a religious person would. Rather, you should try to imagine that you are some alien from outer space, with no affiliation to anything on Earth. That thought experiment is highly recommended, and can yield some incredibly interning analyses of e.g. historical events.

3. Make a Great Project-plan
A scientific project consists of some large, multiple medium, and many small segments. The key is to organize these such that you know when to complete each. You can find all kinds of project management tools out there, so just go ahead and find something that fits your fancy. Personally, I like reverse mindmaps, i.e. they start large, but gradually shrinks as I delete elements upon completion.

Think about this next time you are faced with a project, since they could really benefit you.

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