Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

How Scientific Thinking Can Hurt Your Life

Smart people have a knack for getting in their own way. They care so much about facts, that they dismiss anything that doesn’t enjoy scientific support. 

Initially, this sounds like a wise strategy. Keeping our views based on proof guarantees that everything we believe is true or close to it.

But evidence based thinking has one glaring hole, literally. Science only explains a fraction of reality. It leaves out more than it takes in.

Scientists have no clear answers for the things that matter most to us. Not even the greatest minds on earth can tell us with absolute certainty where we should live, what good art is, what kind of career we should pursue, how we should manage our finances, what makes us happy, or what kind of person will be the best romantic partner for us.

In regards to these topics, nobody can give us more than a good guess of what might be right. There’ll always be some degree of uncertainty. 

But that doesn’t make these estimations worthless. 

If we’re going to make risky choices, we’re better off with some kind of strategy than none at all. If our current strategy is hopeless, we can at least make changes and see if it’ll pay off better next time.

Rather than take them as fact, we should treat tentative instructions like a compass. Something that demands we stay alert to our surroundings as we use it to guide us to our destination. Because even if the wisdom is sound and points us in the right direction, it may not prepare us for every obstacle.

So instead of limiting our beliefs strictly to facts, we ought to also embrace imperfect ideas and learn to separate the good from the bad ones. That’s the real knack of living.

Our lives will become much richer if we increase our tolerance for incomplete ideas. Even if our choices may still get us into trouble, we’d still get further than if we had no guidance at all.

Ideas on topics such as fashion, love, education, and friendship might not be entirely accurate or even idiot-proof, but they’re surely comforting to have. 

It’s nice to have complete certainty. But we can’t always hide behind the strength of facts. When it comes to the things we care about most, we’ll often be forced to make hard decisions and just hope for the best.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach