Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Art vs Science

Some decades ago, there was a discussion in my audit profession whether auditing is an art or a science. Given the audit tools that are being developed nowadays, I suppose people would argue that auditing is a science. In my view, auditing is an art. These tools just make it harder, better, faster, stronger.

Last week, I told my son that negotiating is an art; not a science. I remember that my father was proud of his negotiation skills, whenever he left the car dealership after buying a new car. I remember that my mother was glad to leave negotiations to him as she “feared” negotiating. Many people hesitate doing that.

I’m tempted to argue that everything is an art when people (eg, deeds, words & intentions) are involved, including psychology. People are (very) skilled in making you believe in something that is not (eg, frauds). Hence, auditing requires a master of arts rather than a master of science.

In my view, this also explains the many audit failures (eg, list, Wiki) as auditors believe that they are auditing a company’s accounting records (eg, G/L entries, financial statements) rather than auditing the people who initiated – or falsified – these records. In my experience, you can smell a fraud. An audit tool cannot.

I wonder why people prefer the label of science or scientist rather than arts or artist. In my view, the best outcomes are generated by joint efforts between arts and science, like baseball, ice-skating, and soccer.

“Think “sport” and the words that spring to mind are likely to be fitness, exercise, competition, endurance… and fun; “science” is probably not among them. It’s obvious to anyone who loves sport that it’s a powerful demonstration of pushing the human body its limits. What’s less obvious is that sport is an equally powerful demonstration of science. From the cutting-edge composite materials packed into racing bikes and tennis rackets to the 17th-century maths that bends baseballs through the air, science is the foundation of almost every sport you care to mention.” A quote from The science of sport.

Is artist perhaps a derogatory term for an auditor? Would that still be the case when this label would limit legal liability in audit failures? Why would any judge be willing to mitigate liability when auditing is a science? Has any soccer player ever been held legally accountable or responsible for missing a penalty?

A quote by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)
Combined quotes by Mae Jemison (b.1956), astronaut

Art for Art’s Sake (1975) by 10cc
band, lyrics, video, Wiki-band, Wiki-song

Art for art’s sake
Money for God’s sake
Art for art’s sake
Money for God’s sake

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless in quotes or stated otherwise.

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