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06.11.2020

CNS Newsletter Volume 13, Issue 02 "Uncertainty and Belief" released

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We recently published a new issue of the Charité NeuroScience (CNS) Newsletter, bringing you the latest on Uncertainty and Belief.

Now that we are no longer at the beginning of a pandemic but in this persistently dragging middle, more relevant than asking “when will this end?” is asking “how can we cope with all this?” The way things are shaping up, there’s a lot of uncertainty. Not by chance, this is what our CNS new issue is about: Uncertainty and Belief.

We all make risk assessments daily. Whether based on scientific evidence or not, the SARS-CoV-2 crisis has made us all aware of this more than ever. The experience of uncertainty (p. 8) is now more present in our lives, and I guess we all have to cope with it (p. 6). As it may affect our concentration or productivity (p. 11), strategies can well be at hand for the time coming. Risk assessments are also socially constructed. Confusing a lack of evidence of risk or benefit for lack of risk or benefit altogether (p. 16) is an ongoing possibility. What can we learn to help prevent the temptation of patronising assurances?

That is somewhat part of the never-ending paradox of science. Whereas it attempts to peel away biases, leaving knowledge that is solid and true, it is practised by human beings who are as prone to biases, like the rest of us. And, being a scientist or not, we may all have strong beliefs in our perception and good judgment. Yet, our perception may well be influenced by external forces, those we may not be aware of, such as propaganda (p. 4). Or by our firm reliance on our memories (p. 14). Then hang on to your senses. But it may be the case they can trick you into believing you have, for example, an extra, non-existing limb (p. 21). Yet, the extraordinary human brain still makes it through and counts on its common sense, a type of implicit knowledge machines are far from acquiring (p. 17).

The off-theme sections dedicate special attention to an ongoing scientific debate: The replication crisis (p. 30 and p. 32). And if you wonder how will conferences continue, read our reviews on how they are working online. Last but not least, I want to leave here our full appreciation to this edition editors: Shereen Abdelnabi, Margo Gawronska, Constance Holman, Alex Masurovsky and Fernanda Santos. Without their excellent work and passion for details, this issue would not have been possible. And a special thanks to our layout team: Demetria Lee and Jana Quismundo. The Uncertainty and Belief issue would have never happened without your time and dedication.

Volume 13, Issue 02

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