The Power of Science to Solve Today’s Complex Problems

This is called science. We measure what happens, we compare and contrast, and we learn the world doesn’t always work the way we think it will.

by Stever Robbins

They’re narrowing the streets in my neighborhood, and everyone is up in arms. People are freaked out, saying that narrowing from sort-of-1.5-lanes to 1 lane+bike lane is going to cause huge traffic snarls.

On the face of it, this sounds reasonable. After all, won’t fewer lanes mean less space for traffic, so traffic must go slower?

That depends. If all drivers simply stayed in their lanes, never made turns, and drove at constant speeds, yes. But they’ve been doing a *lot* of experimenting in Boston with alternative configurations. They’ve compared the results and found that sometimes narrower streets with curb cut-outs and bike lanes result in all kinds of unexpected benefits.

It’s long been known that widening a street won’t necessarily ease congestion because people simply drive more, until the congestion reaches prior levels. “Archie, it’s such a nice day, let’s go drive down the nice, new freeway.”

This is called science. We measure what happens, we compare and contrast, and we learn the world doesn’t always work the way we think it will.

If science always matched up to our intuition, we would have invented high technology 10,000 years ago. We couldn’t have technology until a relatively small number of people invented the scientific method and were willing to believe it’s results over what their intuition said. Intuitively, a 10-pound ball falls faster than a 1-pound ball, the Earth is flat, and the sun rises and sets. Science, however, shows that the balls fall at the same speed (acceleration, actually), the Earth is round, and it spins, rather than the sun moving.

Next time you find yourself getting defensive over some scientific study, stop. That’s a good thing; it means that maybe you can revise your beliefs to reflect reality. Read the study, consider with an open mind, and find out.

Science gave us Ziploc bags. Who knows what might be next?

Stever Robbins is a serial entrepreneur, executive coach, and top-10 business podcaster. He consults and speaks extensively on productivity and profitability. You can find him at

Original blog post is at

© 2011 by Stever Robbins. All rights reserved in all media. Reprinted with permission.

Author: Carl Ingalls

Administrator for High Probability Selling Blog

7 thoughts on “The Power of Science to Solve Today’s Complex Problems”

  1. The concept of questioning the accepted speaks to sales training as well. There is not necessarily a relationship between the popularity of an idea, trend, or school of thought and its validity. Just because something is popular doesn’t mean it is true.

    Excellent post sir.


    1. Hello Scott,

      If we tried to “defend HPS as a sales process” or to prove to you that it worked, then we would not be practicing what we teach. High Probability Selling simply does not fit that way of thinking.

      Carl Ingalls


  2. Scott – I originally wrote this article in a completely different context. It’s not intended to defend or endorse HPS at all. It’s intended to defend *science*.

    If you want to be convinced of whether HPS works–a question I can’t speak to at all–then do an experiment and try it. That’s my point: your intuition about whether it works might be completely wrong. The neat thing about science is that it gave us rigorous, repeatable ways to find out where our intuition is right and where it’s wrong.


    1. Hello Bob,

      Your comment is a very good counter-example of High Probability Selling, because it does not come right out and say what you mean. We teach salespeople to communicate as directly as possible.

      People who prefer to communicate by inferences will probably not benefit from High Probability Selling. Your example may help our readers understand what we mean by this.

      Carl Ingalls


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