How do you determine what is true and what’s false about the universe? How do you know what really happened in the past? How many galaxies are out there? Why your cat suddenly seems dull and listless? What gave you that tremendous stomachache after eating at the low-end sushi joint?
Humans have always used a variety of methods of choosing their beliefs about the universe around them — of deciding on, in squishy humanistic language, their “world view.” You know, what to believe and what not to believe. And the choices are more varied and confusing than ever before, now that we live in a 24/7 world of overblown media hype, faux news, exaggerated claims, posturing, economic uncertainty, and institutional paranoia.
Every one of us uses each of the four basic methods in different ways and at different times. They range from the simple-minded and silly — intuition — to increasingly sophisticated methods: authoritarianism, rational methods, and finally, the basis of science, empirical observation and experimentation.