Everyone encounters a lot of bad ideas and a lot of good ones too, but how can you tell the difference? One thing that’s a giveaway to bad ideas and bad thinking habits in general is the frequent assertion of unverifiable truths. This occurs commonly with people who insist on talking long and breathlessly about batches of unrelated conclusions that are usually about things external to their personal experience. The ideas are typically emotion-laden with innuendos of intentional mind control by powerful unseen manipulators. This sounds like a definition of paranoia, but when it isn’t mixed with noticeable delusional behavior it wouldn’t be defined that way, but perhaps it could be called paranoid-light.
Today I encountered a book that had a title that seemed to promise a clearer understanding of evolution, and how the concept behind that process could be applied to all sorts of processes along with biological evolution. The idea of the evolution of business was an early example, and that struck me as strange because Darwin’s book on the evolution of species (1859) had the same basic idea as Adam Smith‘s book on evolution of business, but Smith’s was published in 1776. Charles Darwin was eighty-three years tardy, and this new book adds another hundred and fifty-six years to the slow thinking, or two hundred and thirty-nine years slow. If Smith had only written a single paragraph on living forms, or even a single word in just the right place based on his ideas of how business evolved, we would possibly be calling evolutionary theory Smithism, rather than Darwinism. Smith’s “Hidden Hand” guiding economic and living transactions, with the idea that those that did well in those situations survived, is at root identical to Darwin’s “natural selection,” where living things most fitted to their local environment were the survivors.
I won’t bother with the title of the book I put down, because it would just cause argument, and what I want to suggest is for you, and me, to watch for unsubstantiated assertions, but even more importantly “unsubstantiatable assertions”. The idea is not to believe things that have no possibility of being shown to be founded in provable fact.
The philosopher of science Karl Popper applies the idea of potential falsifiability to scientific ideas, but I am thinking about that idea of falsifiability in ordinary life situations, and not scientific, requiring that high standard of your acquaintances. Karl Popper (1902–1994) Austro-British philosopher of empirical falsification and critical rationalism: In so far as a scientific statement speaks about reality, it must be falsifiable: and in so far as it is not falsifiable, it does not speak about reality.
Perhaps I’m being too harsh. — Avoid people who talk nonsense.