One of the side topics that's come up around here recently is the value of a scientific background in other jobs (and for life in general). I've thought about that for some time. Growing up, I was always interesting in science, and I was always experimenting with things. I went through cycles of messing around in my spare time with the microscope, the telescope, chemistry experiments, electricity and radio, and back around again. I wasn't all that comprehensive and rigorous about any of it, but I think I did get the basic ideas of a scientist's world view.
Those, to me, are: (1) the natural world is independent of human thought. Your beliefs may be of interest to you, but the physical world is indifferent to them. (2) The natural world has rules. They may not be very clear, and they may be wildly complex, but there are rules, and they can be potentially figured out. (3) The way to figure them out, if you're so inclined, is to ask questions of the world in an organized fashion. These can be observations (in which case, the question is "I wonder what's there and what it looks like?"), or experiments ("I wonder what happens if I do this?"). And (4), since the world is so complex, you'd better make your questions as well-thought-out as possible. Try to identify all the variables you can, only mess with one of them at a time if at all possible, and value reproducibility very highly.
It's surprising, when you look at the record, to find out how little this view of the world has held sway over human history. There were various well-known outbreaks of such thinking in the past, but it's really only been a continuous effort in the last few centuries, and not everywhere in the world, by any means. (If you're interested in seeing just what a profound change has resulted in human affairs, I can recommend A Farewell to Alms. The results, for better or worse, we see around us, not least of which is the keyboard I'm using to type these thoughts, and the network that I'm going to send them out over in a few minutes.
So in one respect, a scientific outlook must be worth something, since it's the backdrop for the entire modern world. But it's possible, more than possible, to live in it without being aware of things in that way. I think that for any kind of work that requires brainpower and adaptability, a scientific background should come in handy. But how handy? That's my question for today. I know what I'd like the answer to be - but see that first principle above. The world doesn't have to give you the answers you like, or even care if you like one at all.
For some possible background, see the recent Edge.org question "What scientific concept would improve everybody's cognitive toolkit?". I was invited to contribute to this one as well, but wasn't able to put my thoughts in a coherent enough form.
Update: fixed the numbering of the points. Yessireebob, I'm a scientist, all right.