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Transcript: Part 1
Hi, Im Bob Bain. Im here in beautiful Seattle its a lovely day and Im excited to be talking with you about big history. Im a friend of David Christians, a longtime colleague. Weve worked on many projects and were going to work together on the Big History Project. Like you, Im going to be listening to Davids talks. Like you, I will be learning new things. Big history is exciting for me, because big history makes me think. It encourages me to ask new questions. It helps me rethink the Universe, and the world and my place in it. From time to time, David has invited me to talk with you, to think with you, about some of the important ideas in the big history lectures. For example, I loved the last lecture where David talked about origin stories. Actually, origin stories have been important in my life. My grandmother used to read me these stories. They were beautiful; they were wonderful. Im going to read these stories to my grandchildren as they get a little bit older. But David pointed out that origin stories do more than tell a good tale they also make claims about the way the world began and how it works.

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HOW DO WE DECIDE WHAT TO BELIEVE?

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ORIGIN STORIES

Bob Bain describes our everyday encounters with claims, which are conclusions, assertions, or answers that all of us apply in deciding which information to trust. Trust, he says, is based on one of four claim testers: intuition, authority, logic, or evidence. After reading the text below and watching the video, you should be able to evaluate the claims made in this course, in other courses, and in your life outside of school.

Key questions
1  How do you decide which claims to trust, which ones to ignore, and which ones to investigate further? 2 What are the four claim testers and how are they different?
BIG HISTORY PROJECT

Transcript: Part 2 1:28-2:16


Claims: Do you ever use that word? We historians and scientists use the word claims to answer MAKING CLAIMS questions, to make assertions about the way the world works in answer to our own puzzles. Claims may not be a word that you use every day, but you make claims every day, youre surrounded by claims every day, you encounter them every day. For example, a friend tells you over the weekend that she had the flu and thats why she didnt call you, then thats a claim. Or, if you read a blog that announces your favorite band broke up, theyre making a claim. And when you tell your parents that you didnt let them know youd be late because your cell phone battery died, youre making a claim. So, lets take up this question of how you learn to trust or evaluate claims. Lets use an everyday experience, one that Im sure you have had. Lets imagine we are going to go look for a new restaurant called the Big History Caf. Weve heard great things about it the food is exotic, its coming from all over the Universe, and the portions are generous. Unfortunately, weve lost our way. Good news: We see someone who seems to know her way around town walking toward us. You stop her and say, Hey, can you tell me how to get to the Big History Caf? Of course, she replies. How do you decide which claims to trust, which ones to ignore, and which ones to investigate further? For example, would you automatically trust your friends claim about the weekend flu? Would you trust that blog enough to repost that your favorite band broke up? What about your parents would they trust that your cell phone battery died and thats why you came in late? In the big history course, were going to ask you to raise questions about claims, to understand how it is that people make claims, and by what means we can trust them. You head down to the corner, make a right, pass the big department store, and a little ways down on your left youll see the Big History Caf.

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WHEN TO TRUST

BIG HISTORY PROJECT

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So, we start down our way following those directions. Suddenly, we stop.

INTUITION TESTS Do we trust her? Does she really know? Our intuition, CLAIMS our gut, said she seemed confident lets follow it. So, we stop and decide to check this out. So we go turn back to her and say, Excuse me, have you ever been to the Big History Caf? Do you know where it is? And she tells us, Of course. Its my favorite restaurant. Ive been going there for years and years. AUTHORITY So, we feel good about this. She seems to be an TESTS CLAIMS authority. Shes been there before. So we head on our way to the Big History Caf.

All of the sudden you realize the Big History Caf is a new restaurant. Its only a year old. She couldnt have been going for five years. Theres something LOGIC IS A WAY TO wrong here. It doesnt make sense its illogical TEST CLAIMS that shes been going for five years. Good news: You remember that we both have cell phones with mapping programs. You decide we should map our way to the Big History Caf. And because we both know that mapping programs EVIDENCE ALSO make mistakes, you decide youll map one and Ill INFORMS CLAIMS map one and then we can check. We map the Big History Caf and our mapping programs agree. We learn that shed been telling us the wrong directions, that she was leading us toward the Little History Caf. The Big History Caf is five blocks in the other direction. Confident now that we have the evidence, that our directions are now accurate, that weve checked it out on two sources, we now head to the Big History Caf.

1:40-2:50

BIG HISTORY PROJECT

Transcript: Part 3 0:00-1:18


Okay, that was a pretty simple story and suspenseful because we eventually reached the restaurant. THE FOUR What I hope it did was illuminate the four ways we CLAIM TESTERS assess claims, we test claims. What were they? INTUITION: a gut feeling, like when we just felt she was telling us the right story, which involves quick judgments based on feelings AUTHORITY: when we accept information from a credible, believable source LOGIC: we test claims using our minds to think about something and see if it makes sense EVIDENCE: when we gather up available information about the word; evidence comes from evident being able to see something. In this story, both of us could see it on different sources and hence we trusted it. We want you to assess claims, to determine whether or not theyre trustworthy, to what degree you trust them, if you should ignore a claim, or whether claims need further investigation or new questions. Why? Because, actually, thats how big history works. Thats the engine that drives big history. Its people just like you who have begun to test and ask questions about peoples claims, raising new questions, finding ways to generate new evidence, and furthering our collective learning. Incidentally, Im wondering, did you believe the claims I made about myself? I didnt tell you very much. I told you that my name is Bob Bain and that Im a friend and colleague of David Christians, but I didnt tell you much more about myself. Did your intuition tell you to trust me? Did you assume that since Im in this video I have the authority to make claims? Did you agree with my claims because they made sense to you logically? Did you search for me online and discover lots of credible evidence showing that I am a professor of history and education at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and former high school teacher with 26 years of experience? Id like you to believe those claims that I made, but I want you to be the judge.

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Of course, we want you to learn and understand the claims people have been making about big THREE DRIVERS history questions the most important and best OF CHANGE claims that we as human beings can make in answer to these questions. We want you to do something more. We also want you to develop the skills to recognize when people are asking good questions. We want you to develop the skills to assess other peoples claims, to use intuition, to use authority, and most importantly, logic and evidence.

BIG HISTORY PROJECT

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