How do we teach people to be able to admit, "I don't know."?
Humans seem to have an innate desire to have some answer for each question. This is fine when it leads us to seek actual answers. But all too often, it doesn’t lead to that. Instead we save time by either ascribing the answer to magic, or by claiming that because my kid got an MMR shot as a baby, and then developed autism, the vaccination was obviously the cause of the autism.
Interestingly, this article in Mother Jones shows that those who believe in one conspiracy theory are more apt to believe in others. So those who are convinced aliens are hidden in Area 51 and routinely abduct earthlings are also likely to deny climate change data, believe the phony MMR/autism link, accept as true the takeover of the New World Order, think GMO foods are a plot for mind control, etc. They essentially seem to prefer any answer other than one scientifically derived.
This appears to be a rather rapidly growing trend around the world, and if left unchecked could bring on another Dark Age, one where nuclear weapons abound. Rather than let that happen, how do we teach people to direct their skepticism where it belongs, and to be willing to say “I don’t know.” and then go look for an actual answer rather than the easy way of ascribing everything to magic or some vast conspiracy?