Crash Testing – Scientists, Entrepreneurs and Religious Crusades
A reliable way to check the validity of an idea is through testing. Testing is designed to expose flaws that were overlooked during the design and production of any product. Particularly, in crash testing of vehicles, manufactures actually crash many fully functional vehicles in order to understand modes of failure and increase their overall strength and safety. Even with the latest computer models and analytical methods, the importance of real life testing cannot be overemphasized due to the innumerable variables involved.
Although most professionals are not overtly afraid to subject their products and processes to many different tests, there is still the unconscious dread of having a failed test because of the amount of rework that may need to be done. Due to the non-physical nature of ideas and beliefs, more crucial tests are needed for them. No room should be allowed for logical maneuverings when ideas and beliefs are not fully tested, and persons should be treated with suspicion when they tend to portray beliefs as facts.
No one would want to drive a vehicle whose brakes work 95 percent of the time, at any reasonable speed. Or board an aircraft whose landing wheel extend 95 percent of the time. There are factors that may make the wheel not extend but it is only allowed because it has not been found.
For the purpose of flight, it is accepted from a design and manufacturing point of view that the engine, control surfaces, landing wheels and tires will always work within its designed limits 100 percent of the time. Eliminating the case of pilot’s error, which cannot be designed-out, the mechanical system is expected to function 100 percent of the time.
The variables that obtain in the business and social world, in as much as it involves humans and unknown human capabilities, is really hard to control to the point where it can easily be stated that x and y will result in z. In the business world, it is very clear that all the narratives on success are usually post-hoc accounts loaded with selective memory of events as well complete omissions – though usually unconscious – of critical turning points that resulted in the success in question. Seemingly inconsequential encounters and random unrepeatable events have far more weight, but are eliminated when assembling the final success stories.
A proper way to test an entrepreneur’s story, would be to strip him of all his successes and fame, set up the experiment in another location with new conditions and in a different time frame. If this success is repeated, then one can then begin to filter out what can be termed facts that can be codified to help others. This is a bit different from studying the lives of successful people and trying to see what they have in common. Because of the complexity of the human mind, it may be possible to make completely wrong conclusions by observing a person from the outside or minimize the importance of some key variables based on the original assumptions made in such study.
This is important because if the lives of different successful people were studied and a common set of facts gleaned from them, those thing might not be transferable to the other unsuccessful people because of their inherent make up. And the final result of the study, though interesting and informative, may lack the transformative power that was intended. When these principles have been agreed upon, it is important to check whether it is possible to gather a group of random people from different parts of the world and make them apply these principles to see how effective they are; which is the real crash testing of the principles. Their inability to apply these principles should also be noted, as the test may just prove that there are different categories of people; successful and unsuccessful people. Indeed, the principle may not be able to turn unsuccessful people into successful people.
A very good approach to testing an idea, belief or concept is the one written in Book of Kings – where Elijah and the priests of Baal were to test the efficacy of their different Gods. For some reason this kind of test is currently shunned by most religious people, and is usually construed as tempting God or forcing his hand. Some of the more radical pastors and ministers attempt to mimic Elijah by mounting crusades promising that the blind shall see, in a stadium instead of a school for the blind. Others promise that the lame shall walk in an amusement park instead of an orthopedic hospital while psychiatric wards are avoided in most exorcism demonstrations.
It is even more disturbing to observe the uproar that occurs when someone regains or claims to have regained his sight or the use of his limbs in such crusade. This reaction reinforces the fact that all the attendees were really not expecting it to happen. One would expect such uproar from unbelievers when all the lame and blind in the crusade get cured. A true believer will be unperturbed by such result because it was expected while a scientist would not even announce a theory with a ten percent success rate.
It is intriguing that most religious people refuse to test the limits of prayer but are content with the fact that God works in a mysterious way when prayers seem to fail, yet are confident of the power of God when it succeeds.
There appears to be a lack of resolve to apply scientific processes to prayers, to investigate its limits rather than mindlessly insisting that: “with God all things are possible”. No growth is possible with this attitude of mind. Where on one hand believing, on the other hand actively refusing to test and yet on the third leg, disbelieving the test result when it does not support the belief.
In the movie, Matrix 1, the young Buddhist monk, on observing Neo’s foolish attempt at psychic spoon bending, carefully informed him thus: “Do not try to bend the spoon, that’s impossible. Instead, know the truth about the spoon.” Neo asked, ‘’What truth?” At which point the young monk replied, “There is no spoon”.
The young monk was informing Neo about his wrong view or understanding of reality. With the map of reality being solid, there is no possibility of bending a spoon the subconscious knows is made of steel, which experience has shown can only be bent by the application of physical force. It would require a complete re-calibration of the reality map in the mind for reality to be influenced in that manner.
In the same manner, it is impossible to walk on water when one’s understanding of reality shows it to be an unstable liquid. The complex process of locating and editing the reality map of the mind is rolled into that deceptively simple word “Faith”. Even in biblical accounts, the term faith is loaded with a lifetime of information. Such faith cannot be acquired by claiming that faith can move mountains or by violently quoting the verse: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”.
Luckily, cutting-edge scientific research has become interested in several phenomena that were previously the preserve of the religious. In probing the fundamentals of reality, scientists are likely to be the ones to apply Faith as they delve into the minutiae of mind-matter interaction.
Author, Python and the Rainmaker.