Thursday, February 21, 2013

Eggheads and Cracked Eggs

Why we can't solve problems. 

We no longer want to embrace analysis. The empirical method of analysis.  Conduct the experiment, document the results, duplicate the experiment, duplicate the results, write a paper with the conclusions.

Here is the metaphor.

Wolf Blitzer stops off at the market on the way home to buy a dozen eggs.  When he arrives home, he is motivated to try an experiment.  

  • He takes an egg out of the carton, drops it on the floor, and it breaks.  
  • He documents the results.  
  • He repeats the experiment. 
  • He duplicates the results.  
  • He submits a paper on the topic.  
  • His conclusion?  
  • Don't drop raw eggs on the floor: They will break and you will have a mess.
  • Dr. Blitzer cleans up the mess.

John King reads the academic paper.

  • John King decides to duplicate the experiment with the same results.  
  • Mr. King comes up with a different conclusion.  
  • He has not dropped enough eggs on the floor.
  • Mr. King buys another carton of eggs.  Then another with the same results. 
  • Mr. King writes a paper challenging Dr. Blitzer's conclusions.

Candy Crowley reads these papers and invites both onto her show for an interview.

Dr. Blitzer reiterates his position.  Mr. King objects.  Candy Crowley wants to know why.

Mr. King 

  • challenges the limited scope of the experiment.
  • challenges the number of people involved in the experiment.
  • challenges Dr. Blitzer's hasty conclusions.

Candy Crowley turns to Dr. Blitzer:

"In other words, you did the experiment yourself, you did not include other testers, and you came to a conclusion because your way is the only way."

Candy Crowley turns to Mr. King.  

"Now, you, John, you have a different approach.  Tell us all about it."

Mr. King says:

  • I want to involve more testers. 
  • I want to use more eggs.
  • I want to use eggs from different chickens.
  • I want to use eggs from different birds.

"Very open minded of you, Mr. King,  John, to keep such an open mind. Now you, Dr. Blitzer..."

"Well, I still believe--"

"I'm sorry. That's all we have time for. Coming up next: Reliable Sources, where the friends of John King will discuss why Mr. King's work is so important."

The Empirical Method of Scientific Inquiry Suffers.



If you find anything here to be helpful, please do not hesitate to send me a really tricked-out laptop and to put a few dollars into the envelope along with the thank you note. Slim

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