So how do you know what’s true? Karl Popper declared it to be impossible, and said falsification is as close as we can get: you posit a hypothesis, and as long as it hasn’t been disproved, it is assumed that it could be true.
But of course you can only do that disproving properly if you are objective. I did my most recent study with researchers from Yale University. One of their experiments produced a surprising result, which they wanted to replicate. It’s not easy to be objective about a replication because you already know what came out of the original experiment.
Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman once gave scientists a piece of advice: ‘The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool.’ Because I think I am smart enough to be able to fool myself, I am doing this study triple blind: the test subjects don’t know which drink they are getting, I don’t know either, and even during the data analysis, I don’t know who got what.
This is a new experience for me, and I am very positive about it. Normally, as you do the analysis you can’t help thinking about whether the outcome will be what you think it will be. Hopefully I can present the results at a conference later this year: ‘After you’ve not fooled yourself, it’s easy not to fool other scientists. You just have to be honest in a conventional way after that.’