12 THE INTELLIGENT SOLUTION OF PROBLEMS The Scientific Attitude Is the Truth-seeking Attitude. Science is an activity where honesty is most obviously an essential condition for success. " In nearly everything else truth is a means, not an end. An advertisement may tell lies, but then telling the truth is not its object. Its object is to sell the stuff, which is an entirely different object." ' An attitude is simply a habitual way of looking at things, or a state of mind. It is largely emotional in nature and motivates and determines conduct and behavior. The scientific attitude causes one to seek to control primitive emotions by rational appeal to fact rather than by superstitions, prejudices, traditions, customs, precedents, dogma, and intolerant self-conceit. Why Should One Deske to Know the Truth? 1. The Quest for Truth Is One of the Most Valuable Activities of Mankind. Truth is one of the values whose pursuit leads to life's greatest satisfactions. 2. Human Progress Has Been Most Rapid When the Search for Truth Has Been Conducted Scientifically. Today the lame walk, the blind see, the naked are clothed, and the hungry are fed because of the knowledge that man has attained. 3. The Search for Truth Liberates Man from Stultifying Influences. Science has removed the fear of unseen demons which lurked behind every rock, tree, and lightning flash for primitive man. Science liberates us from the oppression of superstition and intolerance and the penalties of ignorance. Science may indeed bring freedom to mankind. "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32) Within our own generation we have seen many whole nations enslaved by men who do not accept truth as a value. We have seen other whole nations of people willing to die rather than give up their hardwon freedom to seek the truth. The Truth Seeker Must Cultivate Certam Habits of Mind. The easiest way, perhaps the only way, to see how Science works is to see how scientists work. Scientists are not supermen. They are quite ordinary-looking people such as you might see anywhere. The scientist is interested in the same things as other people, but his interest is exercised in a special way, which we shall now describe. 1. He Realizes That Truth as Discovered by Man Is Never Absolute. The truth seeker cannot hope to discover finality in a universe in which ' J. W. N. Sullivan. The Limitations of Science, The Viking Press, 1934, pp. 276-277.
TH E SCIENTIFIC ATTITUDE 13 change is one of the dominant characteristics. Every investigation soon runs up against a wall of ignorance which, once surmounted, enables one to see a still higher wall in the distance. The quest for truth is end- The best that one less, and no human problem is ever finally settled. can do is to reach a tentative conclusion based on all the data available. The realization that truth as we know it is neither absolute nor complete is one of the most self-purifying attributes of the truth seeker Fig. 1. Pithecanthropus Erectus could not understand. Primitive man displayed his reverential awe of Nature's Forces by fearful apprehension. As intelligent familiarity developed, man learned that these phenomena were not capricious . . . but obeyed rigid laws that could be recognized and cataloged ... he learned that some of these forces could be harnessed and put to work. (Courtesy of The Sharpies Corporation.) because it keeps him from becoming conceited, opinionated, or dogmatic. It keeps him humble because he measures what he knows beside what remains to be discovered. It spurs him on to renewed effort. The truth seeker feels that the very best that he has to offer is all too little when he sees on every hand the sufferings of mankind which are the results of problems unsolved or inadequately solved. 2. He Believes in the Orderliness of Natural Processes. The truth seeker does not believe that events happen capriciously, nor does he believe in magic, astrology, fortunetelling, or "lady luck." The student of nature soon discovers that our universe is one of law and order. He knows that cabbage seeds produce cabbages rather than sunflowers. He realizes that nature makes no exceptions for any individual and that