How might we link value to science with prediction?

Many times every day, each of us asks con­scious­ly and uncon­scious­ly, “What do I want?” and “How can I get it?” We respond to these ques­tions with ideas about value.

We per­ceive val­ue imper­fect­ly. For exam­ple, we some­times get what we thought we want­ed and won­der why we want­ed it, or we do what we deemed suf­fi­cient and fail to obtain intend­ed outcomes.

Because we can ful­fill cur­rent want—whether it be for a drink of water a few moments from now, a com­fort­able retire­ment in thir­ty years, or peace on Earth—only in the future, we real­ize val­ue only to the extent we pre­dict with accu­ra­cy greater than we can achieve by pure chance both that we’ll feel sat­is­fac­tion when we attain our ends and that we’ll prove our means sufficient.

Over many mil­len­nia, humans have iden­ti­fied a set of behav­iors, which we now term a “sci­en­tif­ic method” or “sci­ence,” by which we dis­cov­er repeat­ing pat­terns and use them to make suc­cess­ful pre­dic­tions. We have includ­ed in this method ques­tion­ing, observ­ing (both with phys­i­cal sens­es and by intro­spec­tion), rea­son­ing, pre­dict­ing, test­ing pre­dic­tion against expe­ri­ence, invit­ing oth­ers to do so, and—critically important—repeating these behav­iors with­out end.

Sci­ence is the basis for mean­ing­ful choice, since fore­knowl­edge of out­come is the essence of such choice. Sci­ence is how we increase sat­is­fac­tion and lessen suffering.

To live and die well, we con­form ideas about val­ue to rep­re­sent actu­al val­ue more accu­rate­ly. Val­ue­science is the sole demon­strat­ed means to do this.

When­ev­er we ask, “What do I want?” or “How can I get it?”—that is, when­ev­er we address ques­tions of value—we have oppor­tu­ni­ty to prac­tice sci­ence. By evolv­ing to prac­tice more com­pe­tent­ly, we may more accu­rate­ly dis­cern and more ful­ly real­ize val­ue. We may more often get what we want and be sat­is­fied with what we get.

Once, many peo­ple held beyond the domain of sci­en­tif­ic inquiry ques­tions about ori­gins of the uni­verse, Earth, and life. Today a grow­ing num­ber more often sci­ence to address these ques­tions and per­ceive that when we approach them by oth­er means, we pose imped­i­ments to our and oth­ers’ liv­ing and dying well.

Despite this trend to expand the domain of sci­ence, peo­ple around the globe still hold many, and in some cas­es near­ly all, ques­tions of val­ue as we describe them here beyond the purview of sci­ence. As more peo­ple more broad­ly and con­sis­tent­ly sci­ence in response to ques­tions of val­ue, we evolve shared cul­ture that we make basis for coop­er­at­ing to live and die well. ❧

At a pan­el dis­cus­sion at Ford Labs in cel­e­bra­tion of Inter­na­tion­al Wom­en’s Day, Fel­low Robin Bay­er describes what we at Mag­ic mean by “sci­enc­ing to more accu­rate­ly dis­cern and more ful­ly real­ize value.”

Arti­cle “Foun­da­tion­al Lan­guage for Eco­log­i­cal Cul­ture,” Com­mu­ni­ties Magazine

Book­let: Val­ue­science

Val­ue­science Class­es and Workshops

Val­ue­science Course Syllabus