Valuescience: Shedding Illusion to Live and Die Well

“What do you want? How can you get it? How do you know?” Ideas about value—about what we want and how to get it—are future-ori­ent­ed. They rest upon pre­dic­tion. Sci­ence, sole demon­strat­ed means for mak­ing pre­dic­tions bet­ter than we can make by chance, is how we more accu­rate­ly dis­cern and more ful­ly real­ize val­ue.” ~ David Schrom, Val­ue­science

Why study val­ue­science? We live in an era of unprece­dent­ed­ly rapid, large, and nov­el changes. Many of these we’ve set in motion. We’re alter­ing soci­ety, oth­er parts of nature, arti­fact fash­ioned from nature, and infor­ma­tion accu­mu­lat­ed by humans. Today more than ever before we live and die well by cul­ti­vat­ing pro­fi­cien­cy in bring­ing to aware­ness, ques­tion­ing, and evolv­ing to be more reli­able infor­ma­tion about val­ue, espe­cial­ly ideas about how we can know and real­ize value.

Res­i­dent Fel­low David Schrom teach­es val­ue­science to a class at Stan­ford University.

In val­ue­science class­es and work­shops we bring accu­rate, per­ti­nent find­ings from many dis­ci­plines to bear upon three cen­tral ques­tions of our lives: 

  • “What do I want?”
  • “How can I get it?” and most importantly, 
  • “How do I know?”

We ask the first two ques­tions about every­thing from big choic­es like career and mar­riage to lit­tle ones like what we’ll eat for lunch today. We ask the third ques­tion far less often, yet only to a degree that we rely upon sound means of know­ing can we make what we think we know as faith­ful a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of self and sur­rounds as we’re able, and only by faith­ful­ly rep­re­sent­ing self and sur­rounds can we get what we want and want what we get.

All of us have expe­ri­enced get­ting what we thought we want­ed and feel­ing dis­ap­point­ed, and all of us have some­times done what we thought suf­fi­cient and come up short. Again and again we think we know how to secure sat­is­fac­tion only to dis­cov­er that we’re mis­tak­en. With cur­rent approach­es to val­ue we repeat­ed­ly gen­er­ate over­con­fi­dence and error. Though we work to learn from mis­steps, we rarely delve deeply enough to re-exam­ine our approach­es. Even when we do ask, “How do I know?” we’re often quick to answer with long-held, well-prac­ticed jus­ti­fi­ca­tions yet to be crit­i­cal­ly exam­ined to their roots, and poor­ly able to with­stand such scrutiny.

In val­ue­science class­es and work­shops we explore his­to­ry, phi­los­o­phy, ecol­o­gy, eco­nom­ics, soci­ol­o­gy, lin­guis­tics, psy­chol­o­gy, and more to learn how we may apply science—defined here as behav­iors by which we pre­dict with suc­cess greater than we can achieve by chance—to dis­cern value—what we want and how to get it—more accu­rate­ly and to real­ize it more fully.

If you are engaged or want to engage in such inquiry and prac­tice, we wel­come your pres­ence in a val­ue­science class or work­shop. Please click the Con­tact Us but­ton below to inquire about the next avail­able offering.

Val­ue­science Course Syllabus