Sunday, 13 May 2012

DH7: When it's your job to fix you'r critics' cases for them


Sometime after I came accross Paul Graham's excellent disagreement hierarchy, I came accross a little known addition by a blogger known as Black Belt Bayesian:

DH7: To win, you must fight not only the creature you encounter; you must fight the most horrible thing that can be constructed from its corpse.

Paul's article revolved around civility in on-line forums, so I can see why he stopped at 6. Trying to construct an argument out of a jumbled mess of an argument that 'someone on the internet' makes is a hobby few may be interested in. Perhaps the purists, perhaps the philosophers.

Now, look again through the eyes of an entrepreneur. For many on Hacker News this requires no imagination whatsoever. You pitch your idea to many people every week. They may come back with a blurb of a potential problem. One that sounds like those you dismiss easily with a ready-made response. The other side will not push their case. They will not try to state their case clearly, nor will they counter-argue. It is a social situation, they are only making conversation, and are only too happy to move on to the next topic or tell you about their startup, or network with someone else. But for you, DH7 is a matter of life and death:

To win, you must fight not only the creature you encounter; you must fight the most horrible thing that can be constructed from its corpse.

Only this time, winning is not about some argument on a forum. The stakes are much higher. If you failed to recognise a valid argument in the mumblings of an experienced but unmotivated interlocutor, you may hear it again, loud and clear, in the epitaph of your business venture. So you must inquire, open up, defeat the ugh field, and push through until you have found what was lurking behind the bushes, or you find out it was only the wind afterall.

So open your ears fellow entrepreneurs, and don't let that tiny note of discord get lost in the noise. Steamrolling objections with your well-practiced arguments (or non-arguments) is good fun, until you miss that one valuable insight.

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