Intellectual humility is central to science

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Transparency is indispensable for accuracy and correction in science, and is discussed frequently in the credibility revolution. A less often mentioned aspect of credibility is the need for intellectual humility: When scientific communication is overconfident or contains too many exaggerations, the field stands to lose its credibility, even if the methods and statistics underlying the research are sound. We argue that intellectual humility is given a great deal of lip service, but is too rarely valued - we may say that we as scientists ought to be intellectually humble, but our actions as a field suggest that this is not a priority. Although we acknowledge that intellectual humility is presented as a widely accepted scientific norm, we argue that current research practice does not actually incentivize intellectual humility. A promising solution could be to use our roles as reviewers to incentivize authors putting the flaws and uncertainty in their work front and center, thus giving their critics ammunition to find their errors. We describe several ways reviewers (and authors) can contribute to increasing humility in practice, instead of passively waiting for the system to change.

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Type of resources: Reading

Education level(s): College / Upper Division (Undergraduates)

Primary user(s): Student

Subject area(s): Applied Science, Social Science

Language(s): English