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Engaging the thought process

<rant> I am a bit peeved by the way people plot two data points in their life, draw a line through it extrapolating towards infinity, and then want to apply those metrics to the whole of society.</rant>

In English... All these discussions about how open source is bad, or how expensive outsourcing is, or how one should never wear a suit to an interview, are moot.

Sure, we can share experiences, but to take one's own experience, and want to legislate it for the rest of the planet is silly.

There was link recently to an article by Richard Feyman, and what he calls the Cargo Cult, is a version of folk not engaging the thought process.

True, some companies will get burnt by outsourcing. Others will thrive. Ditto for using open source projects. Ditto for {{insert anything}}. Anecdotal evidence from one source should not be held as gospel. At best, it should just give you a reference point from which to begin your research, or indeed teach you of potential pitfalls to watch out for.

What happened to thinking?? Does it still have a place in society. Do people still practice it??

All the problems of the world could be settled easily if men were only willing to think. The trouble is that men very often resort to all sorts of devices in order not to think, because thinking is such hard work.
-- Thomas J. Watson

A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.
-- William James

And yes, before I get flamed for arguing that we should think for ourselves, and quoting from other sources....

All truly wise thoughts have been thoughts already thousands of times; but to make them truly ours, we must think them over again honestly, till they take root in our personal experience.
-- Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Thursday, November 20, 2003

" I am a bit peeved by the way people plot two data points in their life, draw a line through it extrapolating towards infinity, and then want to apply those metrics to the whole of society"

Aren't you kind of doing the same thing with this post?

"What happened to thinking??"

Who are you to extrapolate your experiences on these boards to the way people think as a whole? :)

Thursday, November 20, 2003

I remember reading somewhere that the goal of most companies is simply to keep doing what they've always done. The same could probably be said for humans in general.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Thinking is good. Mmm, thought.

Having said that... the straight-line trend extrapolation is the easiest one for almost all people to grasp.  It is also in human nature to compare trends and current events to events of the past and then attempt to infer that things will happen in the same way.

He who reads crystal ball eats glass.

Bored Bystander
Thursday, November 20, 2003

The old adage "don't judge a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes" applies more today than ever.

Unfortunately, we're constrained by our direct knowledge and experience.  As this is inherently finite, we turn to antedotial evidence.  Antedotial evidence is flawed since it almost always comes from hindsight.

It's easy to look at a struggling software company and say "wow, they're so stupid, trying to do that in J2EE".  Perhaps the direction was set in 1997.  Maybe they had a bunch of really bright people debate the point for months.  Maybe it was a good decision at the time.  You don't really know.

The same principal applies all around us.  People judge econonic or foreign policy by results.  That's fair.  Decisions might have not only seemed brilliant at the time, they may have _been_ brilliant, even though they turned out badly.  Were Microsoft engineers dumb in 1992 for not anticipating that desktops would be victimized by buffer overrun attacks in 2003?  Hardly.  But that decision looks flawed in hindsight.

My tolerance for "professional critics" is pretty low.  Business success is tough to achieve.  When you've had a client call and say "We really want to buy 5,000 seats, but can't do it without feature X", and you don't like feature X, what do you say?  You say yes, pocket the money and have a "tarnished" product.  This is how it has to work, even though it may appear to some that your company "doesn't get it".

Yes, many, perhaps most, "bad" industry decisions you see around you were in fact boneheaded.  But at least give pause to the idea that maybe they were in fact the product of clear thinking...

Bill Carlson
Thursday, November 20, 2003

"Who are you to extrapolate your experiences on these boards to the way people think as a whole? "

Two things.
1. I think I is more a case of how people don't think
2. The problem is not just on this board...

A recent example is the story about how comments by Rupert Murdoch were interpreted as a sign that the Sun (UK tabloid) was about to change its slant, and back the Tories instead of Labour.

The fact that this is newsworthy, and the fact that this might affect the outcome of the next election suggests to me that a lot of people are not doing their own thinking, and have delegated it to the media barons and editors.

Note how a lot of people will adopt the latest GeeWhizz Technology after it is praised by {{insert pundit/'expert'}}, with no regard for whether it will actually suit their particular circumstance.

Not only that, but they then argue that anyone who disagrees with them as a l000za!

Friday, November 21, 2003

It was ever thus. 

It only good point is that it gives those of us who think a *potential* advantage. 

Little story - Thales (the first of the greek philosophers) having noticed that there was a correlation between the olive crop and the weather some months earlier rented all of the olive presses well in advance and made a killing.

Why only a *potential* advantage?  Because he could have miscalculated.  Thinking gives you the chance of stepping outside the herd.  Most people prefer to be happily in the middle of it.  OTH I'm just an old cynic.

A cynic writes
Friday, November 21, 2003


You're witnessing human behavior. Trying to change it is pointless, and getting frustrated at the same behavior that has been exhibited for millenia is equally as pointless.

Don't like that some people are "sheeple"? Good. Don't be one and move on.

Mark Hoffman
Friday, November 21, 2003

While it might have been going on for ages, I will still try and encourage change.

Poor human nature, what horrible crimes have been committed in thy name!
-- Emma Goldman

Friday, November 21, 2003

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