Thoughts on “Theory” and “Science” – by Haresh

Oftentimes when speaking with people, I struggle to convey how the scientific way is the most reasonable, or at least the most rational, way to approach every life situation. At times we might abandon rationality and reason in favor of doing things we know are irrational. Smoking and drinking can be such examples. In some ways, you can say that these can be explained in terms of rewards and risks. So for things that don’t involve pleasure and pain realities, we should expect to follow the scientific method.

One of the problems with using ‘science’ as an approach in life is that people tend to position science as akin to religion. People treat science as if it’s comparable to religion. The fundamental difference between a science based approach to life and one that isn’t science based, is that science is evidence driven, whereas anything else would not be evidence driven. Religion is not evidence driven. Thus, science is not on equal footing as religion. Not even close. However, the terminology gets in the way;  ‘science’ is a misused and misunderstood term, especially in today’s vernacular. Perhaps I will attempt to use ‘evidence based approach’ as the terminology, instead of ‘science’.

Another word that comes up and is equally confused: ‘theory’. In a layperson’s mind, a ‘theory’ is something that has the best odds of being true but can be false. When a layperson says ‘I have a theory on why xyz happened,’ they mean that they sort of know what could have happened. In other words, their confidence level is likely well short of 90% and oftentimes short of even 50%. When a scientist, who is supposed to be driven by evidence, says we have a theory about xyz, she really means we can predict what’s likely to happen in any situation involving xyz with virtually 100% confidence. This applies to the theory of gravitation, the theory of relativity, the theory of quantum mechanics, the theory of radiative heat transfer, and so on. Again, we see how terminology creates challenges because like the word ‘science’, the word ‘theory’ has multiple meanings and people mistake them for each other.

Richard Feynman declared that we are not in a scientific age. He spoke those words decades ago. During the Renaissance, we lived through an age that was driven by the arts. Ordinary people were thinking about art and were trying to consume, be inspired by, and even produce it. Before that, we lived in an age that was driven by religion; popular culture and laypersons were approaching their daily lives with religious dogma and ‘methodology’, if you will. In today’s society, we are enjoying the fruits of work done by scientists and engineers in the form of new inventions and technology. We have also continuously expanded the frontiers of scientific knowledge.

What we don’t have is an age of science in the popular realm. The average person doesn’t consume science consciously, nor do they aspire to actively adopt an evidence based approach to life. The real scary part is that our decision makers (politicians, academics, doctors, business people, clergy, or otherwise) are not taking an evidence based approach to making decisions.

Without an evidence based approach, how do we know if we’re making the right decisions? In a team setting, what kinds of best practices can we employ to ensure we’re using our evidence properly? How exactly does an evidence based approach fit into the larger context of a company? These are the questions we want to help you answer. At Hitech Advisors we ensure our teams use this approach so they can trust each other to make the right decisions. Want to find out more? We’d love to chat:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *