Posts Tagged ‘HAC’

A Wedge Obscures Truth

December 11, 2009

I have been engaged lately in “lurking” in discussions online and face to face on global warming and climate change. I am lurking because I do not really know enough to participate. These discussions are truly fascinating, but they don’t expose the science very well, and they don’t focus on the eventual benefits of change for everyone.

Scientists employ a methodology focused upon experimentation, observation and analysis that was demonstrated almost 1000 years ago by ibn al-Haytham (Alhazan), a famous Muslim scientist, while writing a treatise on optics.

1) Ask a question;
2) State a hypothesis;
3) Design an experiment;
4) Run the experiment and collect data;
5) Analyse the data and state your conclusions;
and finally, communicate your results so that they can be challenged and refined by others.

Does this process sound familiar? No? You haven’t seen much of the scientific method in the global warming debate? Neither have I. The global warming debate is largely a battle of dogma and rhetoric surrounded by generalizations, assumptions and some outright falsehoods. In this debate, cherry-picked findings and palatable conclusions form a convenient basis to support an argument – hardly the scientific method – it is more akin to the political method. Don’t you find that frustrating? I certainly do.

In global warming debate, I am also reminded of the Rotary International guiding principle of the “4-Way Test”:
Guiding principles

The Rotary International 4-way test is ideally applied to everything a Rotarian thinks, says and does:

Is it the TRUTH?
Is it FAIR to all concerned?
Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

Coincidentally, my e-mail bell has just sounded, and tonight’s Slashdot summary includes this related discussion – more food for thought:
The Science Credibility Bubble

I believe that the political style evident in the global warming debate speaks to the real complex nature of global warming and climate change science. The public’s difficulty to grasp science is often more easily overcome by political tools of FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) and HAC (hope, ambition and confidence) than by education and a presentation of facts. Unfortunately in this particular debate, a few scientists have “stooped” to the level of political squabble to promote the science of climate change and the premise of global warming in the public view to counter an uneducated press and public.

A wedge has been created in the global warming debate that widens the gap of understanding between adherents of differing viewpoints and loses sight of the benefits equation – this wedge obscures truth. A wedge is created when FUD and HAC is presented in lieu of facts. The gap of understanding widens when the public hears the FUD and the HAC and fails to demand the facts early in the debate. I have seen this same wedge created in debates surrounding evolution, stem cell research and healthcare reform. If only the public was better educated in fields of science and mathematics, the scientists uniformly adhered to the rigors of the Scientific Method, and those involved in this debate practiced the 4-Way Test to seek the greatest measure of benefit for everyone.

A wedge of FUD and HAC obscures truth. We should all present facts – quickly and as often as necessary to beat back the wedge of the political method. We should all focus our debates on the measurable benefits to everyone. Eventually, we will see truth emerge.

FACTS Overcome FUD – and HAC, too.

November 9, 2009

My early product line management PLM career at Rockwell International’s Network Transmission Systems Division and later Alcatel was a “tough row to hoe”. My products were element-layer and network-layer management systems for telecom networks. For the network operator, these products were expensive to purchase, a little mysterious and esoteric for the uninformed, a heavy burden to maintain, and for 99.9% of the time these systems were nearly invisible and seemingly unneeded. Try justifying that purchase to the decision makers… It was a tough sell because there were so few facts to demonstrate a rational need. On the other side of the table, these products were especially difficult for me to garner funds for their development. I was severely challenged to show how much revenue my products would generate when our customers didn’t want to purchase these products in the first place. Worse, these particular management system products were “bargaining chip give-aways” to “seal the deal” if necessary. My customer counterparts and I were often in the most unfortunate position of having FUD as the only sales tool in our PLM toolbox. Measuring the real contribution to the bottom line for my products whether for us or our customers was impossible.

If a justification effort turns to the tools of FUD – fear, uncertainty and doubt, any seasoned executive will recognize the “ploy” from a subordinate and is likely to reject the “amateurish” effort outright. And if the seasoned executive can, they will often wield the tools of FUD themselves on less experienced adversaries to disarm a conflict or force an agreement – FUD is fast to foist and often effectively glosses over many troublesome details.

I learned a number of valuable lessons from the old PLM days, and I continue to pass them onto my clients at every opportunity:

1) In the absence of facts, hire the best salesperson you can to sew the seeds of hope, ambition and confidence – HAC – to counter FUD. In a battle exclusively of metaphor and hyperbole, charisma wins out to justify a “leap of faith”.

2) FACTS overcome FUD – and HAC, too – always! It is always worthwhile to discover facts and master their presentation. Facts tell a story that FUD can not.