Monday, November 10, 2003

Scientology Logic 5

Logic 5 - A definition of terms is necessary to the alignment, statement and resolution of suppositions, observations, problems and solutions and their communication.

DEFINITION: Descriptive definition: one which classifies by characteristics, by describing existing states of being.

DEFINITION: Differentiative definition: one which compares unlikeness to existing states of being or not-being.

DEFINITION: Associative definition: one which declares likeness to existing states of being or not-being.

DEFINITION: Action definition: one which delineates cause and potential change of state of being by cause of existence, inexistence, action, inaction, purpose or lack of purpose.

The 18th Century French philosopher Voltaire said very wisely, "If you wish to converse with me, define your terms." Logic 5 not only agrees with Voltaire but goes on to define how to define your terms.

Let's start with the obvious. If we have fuzzy definitions of what we are trying to reason about or solve then we are going to come up with fuzzy conclusions. Example: if a mechanic doesn't know what a carburetor is then asking him to change the carburetor on your car is going to end up with some interesting results, but none of them are going to include a successfully changed carburetor.

It may seem obvious that we need to understand the words we use, hear or read but how many of us actually use a dictionary when we are studying? My work often requires me to figure out the business rules of a particular area of a company or even of the whole company. I'm constantly bombarded with new terms and I have to ask for definitions from the people I'm interviewing. It's amazing how often I find they don't really understand the words themselves.

The worst example of this was when I was designing the new deal entry software for a particular business group. The deals were complex with all the possible variations that their sales force and lawyers could dreamed up. I spent months working out the business, the business rules and designing the application, then we spent many more months building it and integrating it with the existing systems. About a month before we were due to go into production almost the entire group was fired and replaced because they were doing such a poor job. While working with the new people I realized that the fired people had actually not understood the words they were dealing with everyday in their jobs, because they'd given me wrong definitions.

What this meant was that the new application was about 30% usable. 70% of the requirements were wrong because the people giving the requirements did not understand the words describing the business they were in. This also explained why they got fired: they didn't understand what they were doing and so they were doing a lousy job.

Not having a definition or having the wrong definition for a word is actually the most important barrier to study. Not only does it kill your understanding of what you are reading but it produces physical reactions - well known to every student, but until now assumed to be a normal part of study. This is fully covered in the Hubbard Study Technology.

Study Trouble; Difficulty Learning and Retaining Things?
The Third - and Most Important - Barrier: The Misunderstood Word
The Basic Study Manual
Education & Learning
Applied Scholastics - Effective Education Solutions

As I said, it may seem obvious that you have to understand the words you are using. It may seem like common sense, but let me leave you with two thoughts: First from Voltaire: "Common sense is not so common." and second a question for you that (I hope) will bring about a new awareness of how important it is to fully understand the words we use - "What is the definition of the word 'is'?"