Verifying My Understanding

I have spent the past few days pondering why I tried to create links conforming to the new the html selection method before investigating their proper format. The first reason I came up with was I had thought it best to forgo investing time on understanding the new mechanism in order to get my work done quickly. But I discarded this dubious explanation because I am quite aware of the importance of learning before doing.1 The cause of my error comes from a deeper problem: I trick myself into believing I understand that which I don't.

When I read mp's comment

"Please use the ?b&e=#select selection mechanism instead."

I thought "huh, mp must have a new way to avoid having to use javascript for selecting text by passing in the flags b&e as query params."2 I "confirmed" my theory by verifying my malformed links selected their intended text.3 My bullshit experiment gave evidence to support my hallucination that I knew how to create urls for the new selection tool. Having falsely convinced myself that I understood what I was doing, I thought it okay to move forward and thus proceeded to produce the broken links.

There are two bad habits I've identified from this fiasco. One of them is inferring what tools do/how to use them. Instead of guessing their operation, I must RTFM. The other bad habit is duping myself with faulty experiments that are just the mind's way to convince itself what it already believes is truth.4 I need to find the rest of these bad habits, kill all of them, and be suspicious of my understanding when I learn something new.

  1. The explanation is also dubious because a mind's first answer to self exploration questions is often a trap. []
  2. I was correct in guessing the new selection mechanism did not require javascript, but I could have just as likely been wrong. []
  3. I viewed the links on a javascript enabled browser, so my test gave me no reason to think I was using a new selection mechanism. []
  4. This process of minds duping themselves into believing what they want to believe is easy to see on a macro scale in America with all the "A new study shows __" articles that get printed everyday. But it is harder to catch when looking into the mirror. []

5 Responses to “Verifying My Understanding”

  1. Diana Coman says:

    You should also kill with fire that idea that a positive example ("look, it works in this case!") can EVER be any sort of proof of a theory! An example is NEVER proof of anything (other than of the author's confusion if they push it as proof, possibly). You can *disprove* a theory yes, namely through a counter-example, but that's about it.

    Other than that, not bad points there.

  2. [...] issue with "pingback linkbacks." The fourth gain was I perhaps uncovered a serious problem with my thinking process that caused me to create the broken links in the first [...]

  3. whaack says:

    To be clear, I never consciously thought that a positive example could prove a theory. I understand that theories held must be kept in the perpetual state of "have not been disproven yet." The issue is that I lob a pebble at glass instead of shooting it when I want to convince myself it's bulletproof.

  4. Diana Coman says:

    Heh, nice image there. Ever wondered why do you reach for the pebble instead of the gun there?

    (And yes, that's the general approach, see Popper for details if needed.)

  5. whaack says:

    I reach for the pebble out of laziness. I want to avoid the potential work of cleaning up and replacing the shattered glass.

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