The more I see, the less I know, the more I like to let it go – hey oh. That would be from one of my five favorite bands, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and their hard-driving genius lead singer, Anthony Kiedis. That is what came to mind when I read this article, Why Thinking Like a Scientist is Good for You.
The feedback I get from this blog is that it’s honest, critical, discernment of facts and science without bias or emotion. It’s a breath of fresh air – or maybe bad breath from your beloved dog or child who wakes you up in the morning face to face. “Mom! Mom! Are you awake?” with a strong dose of horrible morning breath right up in your grill. LOL. That one cracks me up. Mother’s day is coming, right?
The auto-fill for “science is about” in Google includes disproving, asking questions, and facts. Bing adds that science is about mistakes, questioning, and investigating. The words consensus, groupthink, and agreement are not part of the set. Science doesn’t care about opinions, likes, possible problems, or potential solutions.
There is a difference between data (facts) and science. An unbiased, intelligent person can look at data and draw conclusions without knowing the science. For instance, I know that pancreatic cancer is one of the most lethal cancers, while prostrate or cervical cancers are far less deadly and more treatable. I can see the data, and I don’t need to be an oncologist to draw that conclusion. The oncologist explains the why. However, some riddles are very complex and depend on many factors. Don’t get railroaded by filtered data. Most people and organizations have agendas. They are not “scientific.”
The Human Effect
Science and knowledge grow and change, but humanity’s flaws do not. The seven deadly sins are lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride. I considered a joke about congress here, but that’s too easy. Anyway, pride in being right can make people miserable in more than one way. Consider how science is bastardized by any or all of the seven deadly sins. This is why factions are at each other’s throats today. Consider you might be wrong. It is very liberating, and that is the gist of the article.
The first two human flaws by the author interviewed in the article are cognitive entrenchment and motivation. Cognitive entrenchment is just like it sounds. I’m the expert; I know the outcome, and I’m not going to consider new data. He describes motivation as comfort with the status quo and fear of looking stupid. Uh, those two read like sloth and pride to me. The third is social and fitting in with the tribe, faction, or mob.
The author describes how many folks spend too much time in preacher, prosecutor, or politician mode. They are as follows. The preacher is dug in, often living in a prison of pride. The prosecutor must demonstrate intellectual superiority by proving others wrong. The metaphorical politician tells you what you want to hear and not what they think.
Discover Fault Fast
The author explains the quicker you realize you’re wrong, the less wrong you become and the shorter and faster the path to success. I learn and discover things about myself as I write this. A few weeks ago, I wrote that “when I find myself in the majority, I must have missed something.” That’s good for many things, but it may not be good for betting on the stock market where the herd rules.
The prior paragraph brings to mind product development and the seven deadly sins, which everyone possesses to some degree. In lesser degrees, they are mere desires, problems, and hassles. You have to think in terms of “what’s in it for me,” WIIFM, which is about quenching someone else’s sloth (work or hassle), greed (money), lust (desire to be recognized or gain power), pride (better or groovier than the neighbor), etc.
Does anyone want to argue that decarb to date has been driven by altruism? For most of us, it’s about exploiting the system that has been established, and to some extent, the free market. But those with money (power) put their elbow on the scale to bend things in their direction – rent-seekers as I was reminded last week.
Sins v Science
In summary, sins (human nature) and science are non-intersecting domains. Applying a solution from one domain to a problem in the other will frequently or usually fail.
Rounding out with the Chili Peppers, Kiedis says the song, Snow (Hey Oh), [paraphrased] “is about how hard it can be to get rid of old ways of thinking and old destructive ideas that we become so attached to – that we couldn’t go forward without keeping this old way of thinking. Once you get rid of those old ways of thinking, you start off with the blank canvas. How freeing that is and how it allows you to open up to be a free man.”
Flea: “That’s epic.”