Thursday, May 28, 2015

Invent, Sell, Get Paid

Finding problems and solving them for a fee presents a problem for me. This industry is enormous and multi-faceted. Some providers understand there is the possibility of a conflict of interest stigma, and many have taken steps to eliminate accusations. It's illustrative to cite diverse examples of the binaural problem-solving business, where experts “find” your problem, and then offer you a “solution” for a fee. Sometimes the prospect of "not" solving the problem is scary.

I like to find a bargain when I'm shopping for an oil change. One of the best I've found is a multi-use coupon offering 5 oil changes for $100. No time limit...and the provider is a trusted community automotive vendor. I'm actually very happy with the arrangement. During the oil and filter change process, a technician also examines two dozen other fluid and mechanical aspects of my car...just in case I want to hire him for some more work. He's a problem finder and a problem solver. He's convenient, because my car is already on the rack. Makes sense, and it's convenient. No pressure. No intimidation tactics. I can just say “no”.

It reminds me of the trip we took many years ago, when we were leaving a little restaurant an excited mechanic ran out from his shop and warned me: you have what looks like a flat should let me check it to be may need to get it looks like it could strand you and your family in just a few miles. He may have been a good Samaritan, but I don't think so. I take care of my own tires, and when I walked around to look, they were all just fine. Sounded like a trick to me. I saved fifty bucks.

I saw the sign that offered a free hearing check. I wondered if being able to hear high frequencies a little better would be worth $7,000 per ear. I know a woman who paid the $14,000, but she still can't hear very well at all. You can't blame me for being skeptical.

I saw the web offer for the NRA to be my advocate in Washington D.C. against the heinous anti-gun crowd. I didn't realize there was so much going on, but apparently there is (and there's a world-class propaganda campaign to convince me). There were the problem and the solution conveniently advertised, tweeted, posted, and aired so I could send a donation and join the organization if I wished. I only did that one time. Now, I think the gun advocate business is like a charity, where the administrative costs are very, very substantial.

I don't want to believe the Saints and Samaritans of the Earth would wave what they define as a terrible problem at me and shout me down when I asked for evidence. Am I blind to terrible problems? Don't I care? Is it time for me to renounce skepticism and cave in to the really smart people?

Here's the problem with smart people: It's the “says who?” situation. Frequently, a person whose job or title sets him out from the rest of us lets it slip about “we intellectuals”. This reminds me of a Proverb: “Truth is revealed, not declared”. I like it, and it sends off a siren when I meet self proclaimed members of “the intellectuals' club”.

So, when self proclaimed Saints and Samaritans advocate for trillions of dollars to “save the Earth”, I grab my wallet and go into a defensive mode, meekly asking for evidence. No, intimidation won't get me off my position. Mobs of faithful converts to Global Warming (caused by human kind) and cries of impending armageddon won't move me. Testimonials from self proclaimed intellectuals won't get it.

It makes good sense (prudence) that we rigorously define the scientific aspects of the Earth's “environmental crisis”. This is so we do not gloss over the morality of knowing truth before we create foundational assumptions. The danger, of course, is that building conclusions on faulty foundations is imprudent (and immoral). If we successfully define the factual extent of the problem, scientists, mathematicians, and engineers will flock to help us build our solution. Then, we can be sure our solution is right, not wrong...efficient, not wasteful. Our solution should not be mostly right, right sometimes, or relatively needs to be to the best of our ability, absolutely and universally right.

Proof is impossible so long as one fact invalidates the assumption, so we must know all the facts. Opinions represent a dangerous liability to scientific rigor, and conclusions are invalid if they are based on factless opinions.

If there is an environmental crisis and if nature has prescribed a deadline on implementing a robust solution, this must be taken into account as a factor in the schedule of work to be done. If the schedule nature has prescribed reveals imminent doom, logical shortcuts are prudent.

But, excuse me for wanting a rigorous definition of the problem and an exhaustive search for the real facts. It's my way. I could just say I learned a world-class problem solving process from the brightest men and women I've ever known, but instead, I'll just be relentless. I know that'll work.

No comments: