For some time, the personal development market and science have stood at opposite sides of a line, throwing stones at each other. While one claims and celebrates the power of the mind and personal power, the other one tries to define what is objectively possible and what is not possible. As such, many people will choose one of both extremes, where usually the scientific extreme is much harsher than the other one. Malcolm Gladwell, in his book “Blink”, claims that snap judgments can many times be better than long, deliberated decisions, when scientists call this humbug. So, what is what here?
I spent the last couple of weeks not only working quite a bit, but also doing a lot of research, ranging from neurology and physics to management and parenting, and over the course of this research, a couple of questions have started forming that I have trouble finding answers for. Maybe you guys can help:
1) Science attempts to build models that approximate objective reality. As such, any scientific study should really be not only reproducible, and if possible some kind of double blind experiment. So, in a very expensive issue of the Harvard Business Review, scientist have claimed a breakthrough in employee management: They now say that personal perception of people has an impact on their work. This is hailed as groundbreaking work! Now, intuitively, we all know that when we have a bad day, work suffers, but scientifically, this was not valid until recently.
2)We are all whole human beings, right? Wrong! To your boss, you are an employee, to a marketing company, you are a consumer segment, to your kids you are a parent, to your parents, you are a kid, etc. We are no longer seen as one thing, but split up in many different parts. Now, I know that all behavior is context dependent, but at the same time certain patterns should be the same everywhere. Look at parenting and management: Apart from the involvement of money, both cover about the same areas, yet each one has very different approaches. Shouldn’t we consolidate some of our knowledge from different fields, to form a more comprehensive picture?
3)Many cultural critics and critics of education lament the loss of the “Rennaissance Man”, the man who would excel and know several areas. Some say, DaVinci was the last one, as astronomer, inventor, doctor, artist, and who knows what else. Yet, in today’s society, specialization is not only fostered, it is required! Originally, I come from a business background, but wanted to add studies in psychology. Instead of nurturing my interest, the universities flat out laughed in my face, and the total time I would have to study would exceed 3 years, before getting anywhere. How then can we learn between disciplines, if each one is so exclusive?
More than complaining about issues, these questions do spin around in my head a lot of the time. For me, science is a great thing, yet not if I can only follow “its” path, since people and their thinking is not scientific. Intuitively, we know a lot of the things science is now backing up, but before science found them, people who said those things were laughed at as being unscientific.
What are your thoughts about this?