I delivered the final part of the Learning Science module today, by introducing the notion of the hyperbole filter, and why we each need to construct one for ourselves. A Hyperbole Filter is a conceptual device, but it’s one of the things i hope people will build for themselves and take out of the module. Note that this is early stage #WorkingOutLoud.
My father used a computer for his PhD research analysis: it sat in the basement of the Town Hall, probably because it was too large to go anywhere else. But over time, it was miniaturized, and i imagine my phone today has the equivalent power of that machine from decades ago. So our hyperbole filter will probably follow a similar path: starting large and unwieldy and gradually becoming smaller and more efficient. But what it does should remain the same, even as it becomes more efficient at it.
What is it? It’s a device (a conceptual one) of healthy cynicism. It’s a filter that lets us take what we hear, and remove the hype and fad. But to do so not simply through opinion or hope, but through methodology and rigorous approach. It’s a way of taking an understanding of the scientific process, and bringing it to bear in our everyday work.
Because it is a device that we must carry around with us, in our pocket, we need to make it robust, and the best way to do this is to keep it simple. It’s probably a series of questions: questions we will ask of ourselves, and questions we will ask of others.
To build it, it’s useful to understand why we are fooled, or why we fail: ideas are transposed from one realm to another with low validity, we measure the wrong thing (and sometimes believe we are measuring the right one), we try to measure the right thing but do it the wrong way, or maybe we accept something with one piece of evidence that is not corroborated by others.
I guess we each put our own questions and ideas into our Hyperbole Filter, but we can trade in useful components, we can share the questions that we would ask.