Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

How to Think Scientifically about Yourself, Other People, and Your Life Conditions

Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

How to Think Scientifically about Yourself, Other People, and Your Life Conditions

Article excerpt

How can you apply science to your relations with yourself, with others, and with the world around you?

Science is flexible and nondogmatic. It sticks to fact and to reality (which always can change) and to logical thinking (which does not contradict itself and hold two opposite views at the same time). But it also avoids rigid all-or-none and either/or thinking and sees that reality is often two-sided and includes contradictory events and characteristics.

Thus, in my relations with you, I am not a totally good person or a bad person but a person who sometimes treats you well and sometimes treats you badly. Instead of viewing world events in a rigid, absolute way, science assumes that such events, and especially human affairs, usually follow the laws of certainty.

The main rules of the scientific method are these:

1. We had better accept what is going on (WIGO) in the world as "reality," even when we don't like it and are trying to change it. We constantly observe and check "facts" to see whether they are still "true" or whether they have changed. We call our observing and checking reality the empirical method of science.

2. We state scientific laws, theories, and hypotheses in a logical, consistent way and avoid important, basic contradictions (as well as false or unrealistic "facts"). We can change these theories when they are not supported by facts and by logic.

3. Science is flexible and nonrigid. It is skeptical of all ideas that hold that anything is absolutely, unconditionally, or certainly true--that is, true under all conditions for all time. It willingly revises and changes its theories as new information arises.

4. Science does not uphold any theories or views which cannot be falsified in some manner. For example, the idea that invisible, all-powerful devils exist and cause all the evils in the world. It doesn't claim that the supernatural does not exist, but since there is no way of proving that superhuman beings do or do not exist, it does not include them in the realm of science. Our beliefs in supernatural things are important and can be scientifically investigated, and we can often find natural explanations for "supernatural" events. But it is unlikely that we can ever prove or disprove the "reality" of superhuman beings.

5. Science is skeptical that the universe includes "deservingness" and "undeservingness" and that it deifies people (and things) for their "good" acts or damns them for their "bad" behavior. It does not have any absolute, universal standard of "good" and "bad" behavior and assumes that if any group sees certain deeds as "good" it will tend to (but doesn't have to) reward these who act that way and will often (but not always) penalize those who act "badly."

6. In regard to human affairs and conduct, science again does not have any absolute rules, but once people establish a standard or goal--such as remaining alive and living happily in social groups--science can study what people are like, the conditions under which they live, and the ways in which they usually act; and it can to some extent judge whether they are meeting those goals and whether it might be wise to modify them or to establish other ways to achieve them. In regard to emotional health and happiness, once people decide their goals and standards (which is not easy for them to do!), science can often help them achieve these aims. But it gives no guarantees! Science can tell us how we probably--but not certainly--can have a good life. If these are some of the main rules of the scientific method, how can you follow them and thereby help yourself be emotionally healthier and happier?

Answer: By taking your emotional upsets, and the irrational Beliefs (iBs) that you mainly use to create them, and by using the scientific method to rip them up.

To show you how you can do this, let us take some common irrational commands and show how you can scientifically examine them. …

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