What Makes Humans Superior in Problem Solving and Decision Making?
Many authors point out that what makes humans superior to
other forms of life is their better problem solving ability. This is the
hallmark of intelligence in animals, including man. In Reliable Knowledge (1996 edition, page 98), John Ziman says:
We need not rely heavily on the particular facts about the brain. The main lesson of neurophysiology and of cognitive
psychology is that pattern recognition is deeply embedded in the complex
structure and functioning of the brain and mind. It is also highly dynamic and
historical, dependent fundamentally on memory, and closely connected with the
capacity for ‘problem solving’ that is the hallmark of intelligence in animal
or man. This is a point to which we shall return when we consider the
psychological development of the individual from childhood.
Everyday Problem Solving
Humans easily solve everyday problems. However, all life is
problem solving, with problem solving and decision making both involved.
Problem Solving and Decision Making
Our best and most reliable method of problem solving and
decision making is scientific method or the scientific method. This method has
been developed by our scientists and other just in recent centuries. Another
name for it is the complete method of creative problem solving. Here is what
Cohen and Nagel say in Introduction to Logic and Scientific Method (1934):
The other methods discussed are
all inflexible, that is, none of them can admit that it will lead us into
error. Hence none of them can make provision for correcting its own results.
What is called scientific method differs radically from these by
encouraging and developing the utmost possible doubt, so that what is left
after such doubt is always supported by the best available evidence. As new
evidence or new doubts arise it is the essence of scientific method to
incorporate them – to make them an integral part of the body of knowledge so
far attained. Its method, then makes science progressive because it is never
too certain about its results.
The legal status of the scientific method has been
established by the U.S. Supreme Court in Daubert v Merril Dow
Pharmaceuticals, 509 U.S. 579 (1993). The Court ruled
But, in order to qualify as
“scientific knowledge” an inference or assertion must be derived by the
scientific method. Proposed testimony must be supported by appropriate
validation – i.e., “good grounds” based on what is known.
With everyone having to deal with everyday problem solving
and since all life is problem solving, should not problem solving and decision
making via the scientific method of problem solving be widely taught? The
answer is Yes! Please see my essay PS-11, “National Program for Teaching