The Flinchum File

Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions
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Our Critical Culture

The educational establishment has worshiped at the altar of the “scientific method” (SM) for many decades. That is a decision-making tool for determining truth, by developing a hypothesis and then testing it against actual observations. If the observations don’t support the hypothesis, then the hypothesis must be untrue.

With roots as far back as ancient Egypt, belief in SM didn’t become commonplace until the 17th century. At first, it was seen as a counter-balance to the “blind faith” aspect of religion. Not surprisingly, established religion has reliably opposed SM but seems to have survived it.

More recently, it was hoped that SM would counter-balance the popularity of “conspiracy theories”. Obviously, SM is no match for people who want to believe such theories.

Still, SM provides another avenue for the critical thinking so necessary for business to make rational asset allocation. Graduate business schools provide courses in Decisioning 101, including SM.

Personally, I have long suspected that our allegiance to SM has made us a more critical society. Every hypothesis must be attacked! One reason for the popularity of sports is that it is socially acceptable to be enthusiastic about a team, without testing whether the hypothesis their particular team is worthy of enthusiasm. Sports is a sector of the economy that makes it acceptable to show enthusiasm.

Criticizing others is complimenting ourselves. We criticize. Therefore, we exist. SM gives us some intellectual “cover” for the criticism of others.

Bottom Line: The scientific method has been better for us economically than it has been for us socially.