Thought hurts! Thinking goes from known data to new conclusions, i.e. it works forward. In contrast, justifying goes from a known conclusion to data that support it, i.e. it works backwards.
Fitting facts to a known view is why for thousands of years we thought the earth was flat, even though every mariner saw objects grow on the horizon. Justifying stagnates knowledge while thinking grows knowledge. The entire scientific method is about following the world’s data in an unbiased way.
To believe in science is to believe in thinking forwards, in going from results to conclusions not the other way. The only way to know that you are really thinking is if it hurts. If it doesn’t hurt, you probably aren’t thinking. Thinking without effort is like gain without pain – impossible. To prove what you already know is no achievement but to discover what you didn’t is.
One person pushing the boundaries of knowledge lets us all through. If you have a problem you can’t figure out, try this method. List what you know, ask what you don’t, then think until your head hurts. Then have a rest and try again. In my experience, an answer always comes. The answers really are out there – we just have to work to get them.