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Conflicting ideas

Raphael Kimmig, 01 Feb 2021

I just listened to episode 54 of Talk Therapy, where Dan and Nathan talk about conflicting ideas in non-fiction. They note that advice is often contradictory, with authors defining their own vocabulary and not making any efforts to engage with others in the field and hash out their differences.

I think this state of affairs may be an indicator that the subject matter you are engaging with is less than a rigorous science.

Advancing the state of the art in a rigorous scientific field requires you to deeply engage with existing theories. The amount of work required to arrive at the status quo makes it virtually impossible to go somewhere interesting without using other peoples work as a starting ground. Having to publish your results in peer reviewed publications will act as another force, pushing you towards using common definititions and a shared vocabulary with others in your discipline.

So if you notice that a lot of the things you are reading fall into that category of thoughts and ideas that don't interact and at times even contradict each other, you can treat that as a signal. It doesn't mean that there isn't value to be found in whatever you are reading. Just that you should take absolutes with a grain of salt, see what works for you and ignore the things that don't.