Sunday, August 21, 2011

A pragmatic approach to ideas

This has already been touched upon numerous times, but I'd like to once again stress that we should go about forming "opinions" by rigorously testing all ideas prior to implementation. The questions that we should be asking ourselves when initially considering an idea are:

1. Does the idea work?

2. If the idea works, does another one work more efficiently?

All ideas must be able to pass the test of falsifiability before being considered for implementation. If we can't see results from a test of the idea, then no one should hold an opinion regarding its practical validity.


  1. No... ideas should be held or rejected on the basis of WHETHER THEY ARE TRUE. An idea that "works" (what does "work" mean without any standards?) and is false will simply lead you to disaster.

    The questions you need to be asking yourself are:

    1. Is there evidence for this idea?

    2. If there is, does another one have more evidence for it?

  2. Can you provide me an example of something that has been proven to be true?

    The idea that an object's acceleration due to the Earth's gravity is approximately -- in arbitrarily concocted units of measurement -- 9.8 meters per second squared works, because we have tested it repeatedly to the point where we have empirical confidence in its workability; as a result, we can do things with the idea that would likely be impossible if it failed the tests. When someone contrarily states that the acceleration is far slower, we take them up on their claim by testing the claim -- throwing a ball into the air, say.

    We should be doing the same for all ideas -- including ones pertaining to how to live, how to manage resources, what to value, etc. Does someone think that sports have some utility in society? If so, test their claim for validity; if the results are contra their claim, then it would be unwise to adopt it. Never let anyone make a claim and then walk away; always offer to test it.

    Tests should be designed to demonstrate that things yield the predicted results; they should not be designed to prove that things are "true," as all truth claims are equally fallacious and, hence, worthless.

  3. I am not referring to the effects of an idea and their value in society; I am referring to whether the idea itself actually works when under scrutiny.

    The inverse of an idea working is an idea being broken. If I claim that a box made of cardboard is durable enough to withstand the impact of a train and a test demonstrates otherwise, then my idea is broken -- not useful -- for it failed the test.

    Ideas only work if they pass tests.

  4. LS- I guess we're gonna have to agree to disagree. You're more of a skeptic bent, I presume. I don't believe in wasting my time with "testing" obvious nonsense. Either it's true or it's not.

  5. I disagree with your claims, here -- for which you have not provided a supporting argument. If you choose not to continue this discussion, I have no problem with that, but I'd just like to state that, even if you think that something is obvious, the person disputing its obviousness doesn't. It is extremely important that any such person be actively shown why he or she is wrong, and opting to instead beat him or her over the head with "You're wrong!" in words alone is only going to make the situation worse.

    Given that such situations are ubiquitous in our society, my conclusion on this matter is that, by extension, handling things this way makes society worse as a whole.