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Entry 16 – Science in the everyday workplace

November 21, 2009

I think whatever business you find yourself in, be it the tech sector, politics, law, business, education, and yes, even religion, you carry out elements of the scientific method to do your job.  You have to see needs to supply a ‘product’ in a market place.  You have to go about studying the market, and the science behind the ‘product’ needed.  You have to learn how best to obtain good people to help you bring said ‘product’ to market.  And after many years of trial and error and experimentation you hopefully find a “formula” that works, and you are able to pass on that knowledge to others to keep the ‘product’ flowing. 

Science and the scientific method doesn’t have to just exist in a laboratory with white coats and beakers bubbling.  The scientific method is actually at the core of what I think we all do on a daily basis to make our decisions.  Sure a scientist will use the scientific method more rigourously day in and day out to test hypotheses, but we all use the scientific method without really realizing it to test our own hypotheses about life.   

For example, you are presented with the question of whether or not to refinance your existing home mortgage loan.  The rates look good, but what will the closing costs be, and will it be worth it to you over the long term of the loan to go through the hassle of refinancing? 

You have to do some research on what rates are available to you.  You also have to look at how your tax rates will go up or down if you refinance.  Finally, you have to look at possible credit problems that have accrued between the time you signed your original mortgage and now.  You formulate a hypothesis and test it to see if you will refinance or not.  Maybe that hypothesis goes something like, “If the annual percentage rate is below a certain percentage point, and the closing costs are such and such, I will accept the hypothesis that I can refinance.  You go out and test it with different banks in different situations and look at the data that comes out of those tests.  You then come up with conclusions based on the test, and voila, don’t look now, but you have just done your own version of science, and carried out a version of the scientific method.  You may have also looked at others who have done the same thing, your neighbor who refinanced last week or a family member who refinanced who shouldn’t have.    

You utilizing the work of others in figuring out whether or not to refinance, while a bit of a stretch, is similar to Einstein who built on the theories of Newton to explain the photoelectric effect and how light behaved.  Newton built off of Galileo’s observations of the heavens from his homemade telescope.  Galileo benefitted from Copernicus and his models of planetary motion.  Copernicus didn’t forget what the ancient Egytians recorded from their meticulously night sky watching.  And there are countless other scientists today who are doing the same thing in their respective fields; building on the successes and failures of other scientists.  And while they may or may not be aware of it, they are making the world a better place one small step at a time.

As Bernard of Chartres said back in the 12th century, and Isaac Newton picked up on this in his work in the 17th century, “We are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants.”

Are there days when it seems like the giants are now the dwarfs, and the world will end at any moment?  Sure.

Are there massive setbacks each and every day?  You bet. 

But along and along we have made great strides as human beings on this planet, and we should all share in the pride of that accomplishment.

We should also marvel at the fact that we are all here in the first place, and that we have the chance to live, if even for a brief moment.  We should all use the life we still have within us to help others, and to make the world a better place every day we are here.  There is simply no time to waste with all the problems we face and need to solve.  No time at all.  And when we solve problems, we feel better about ourselves, we are happy. 

And we can all do this problem solving with or without supernatural beings controlling things. 

I choose to believe the latter.  The majority of my family members, and some of my friends, choose to believe the former. 

For next time, R-E-S-P-E-C-T and the persistent notion that the United States is a ‘Christian’ nation.

Until next time, thanks for stopping by!


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