Monday, January 11, 2010

Challenge Conventional Wisdom

“The conventional wisdom is often wrong…conventional
wisdom is often shoddily formed and devilishly difficult to see through, but it can be done.” (from the book

Conventional wisdom is a commonly-accepted set of beliefs, assumptions, and interpretations of data to which a majority of people subscribe, usually without thinking, and often unquestioned. It plays a large part in how we see and interpret our world.

Much of it is created by fleeting observations, which we accept at face value, seeing only external manifestations or symptoms, rather than diving down to find fundamental causes. This is followed by applying superficial assumptions, based on simplistic reasoning, which, we blindly accept. Whether it’s because of our caffeine-enhanced, hurried lifestyle, our steady diet of prefabricated news bites, or our general lack of intellectual curiosity, we fail to question, try and probe.

These flimsy assumptions form the basis of conventional wisdom, which becomes insulated by interpretations that are repeated over and over and over until they are accepted by most as fact. And, there we have it – the birth of conventional wisdom!

On this blog, I am going to create "Conventional Wisdom Challenges" or CWCs.

Here's how it will work: On the days of a "Conventional Wisdom Challenge", I will put in the Blog Title CWC: and the name of the post. That way, you'll know when it's a "Conventional Wisdom Challenge."

On those days, I will submit pieces of data, along with the commonly-accepted interpretations, based in conventional wisdom. The, I will post a question designed to help you think for yourself. Challenge assumptions. Intuit. Create your own interpretions. Think of it as a game. It will be fun!

My job is to provide the data, the conventional wisdom surrounding the data, and to pose the question which inspires you to see outside-the-conventional-wisdom-box. Your job is to come up with your own interpretation based on what you see and how you think, independent of others. Any questions? Let's get going!

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