Scientific Thinking Isn’t About Being Certain

It’s a pet peeve of mine, ok? I get upset when people think science is all about certainty.

Science isn’t about certainty. Science is about living with uncertainty and still making progress. It’s about mistakes, experiments, and learning. Thinking like a scientist, in life and with our careers, isn’t a bad approach, it’s the approach we want to take. Let’s riff on scientific thinking for a minute here.

Scientific thinking isn’t only about going by the facts and thinking everything else is bunk. It’s about going with the weight of the evidence and understanding what information would have to change in order for us to change our minds.

Scientific thinking isn’t so much about knowing as it is about updating our thinking in the face of new information. It’s how we operate continuously and openly. Not how we know or act with absolute certainty.

Applying science means we’re empowered to act on what we think we presently know, with the humility to accept when we are wrong and move forward. We have permission to make mistakes. We have permission to learn from them. If we’re trying to make progress or grow, it’s our best bet.

Think like a scientist. Always be questioning. Always be curious. Even about the stuff we think we know. And, don’t just debunk, discover. There are new ideas, new paths, and new options out there. Always wonder, “What would change my mind about this?” If we keep experimenting, we can figure just about anything out.

Want more? I’m thinking of this thanks to Adam Grant’s latest book, “Think Again.”

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