Big History will introduce you to many new ideas and claims. You won’t simply accept these claims as facts and move on. You’ll be encouraged to test them. You’ll learn how to evaluate information presented to you, and be encouraged to decide for yourself what to believe and what to investigate further. This is how our thinking advances. Today’s scientific view of the history of the Universe is based on the work of thousands of scientists and scholars over thousands of years. People built upon each other’s work. New technology and new observations have led to ever sharper theories about the Universe and its beginnings. As you study how these views have evolved, you’ll develop your own skills for testing the claims of others and making claims of your own.
The Big Bang hasn’t always been the generally accepted explanation of how our Universe came to be. In fact, our views on the origin and structure of the Universe have changed drastically over the last thousand years. As new thinking and evidence have built upon one another, our understanding of the Universe has evolved. Over the ages, astronomers have used the tools of their time to understand the origin and structure of the Universe.
The focus of this lesson is to begin to understand the process of claim testing. We use the term "claim testing" in Big History to mean the process that someone goes through when evaluating the truth of a statement that is made either in Big History or in other research that you might do. In general, when you encounter a claim, it’s important to ask why you should believe and trust in that claim. This is a core idea in Big History, and you should use claim testing on a regular basis throughout the course.