My previous post about questioning authority got some feedback which got me thinking about writing another entry about the subject.
The main point in questioning authority is this: If you believe somebody *just* because his authority, *never* questioning what he says, then you might not be thinking yourself.
If the Pope says there is a Heaven, and you believe him just because he is an authority figure – then you might not be thinking in your own mind. I’m not saying that the Pope is wrong or right – I’m saying that you should be making your own judgement.
We people tend to believe things that seem obvious for us, and because the marketing vehicles behind these ‘obvious’ issues are so huge. For example, when asked about the most dangerous threats in the world, one could easily mention terrorism or bird flu influence. If you compare the propability and the impact of these risks then rationally these shouldn’t be our biggest worries. Terrorism bombs and attacks are of course serious issue, but in terms of propability it’s much more likely to get hurt in a car accident – and it can hurt you equally badly. Still, people go very safely every morning on their cars and drive to jobs. And they don’t mention cars as the biggest threat. They mention terrorism.
Same with the bird flu influence. Again of course it’s a serious issue as it has already killed several people in different countries, but in terms of ‘biggest threat’ it’s far from it. Hospital bacteria infections for example are much greater threat today, but nobody seems to be interested about them. It’s politics.
Now, that’s why I try to remind (sometimes) people to question authority. The newspapers and governments are (quite often) lead by highly educated people, yet that doesn’t mean you should automatically believe what they tell you. It’s worth noting, that also it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t belive them just because they are who they are. I’m telling to listen what’s being said, not who said it.
If you listen and belive only those who you like, then you might also receive not just their good hints but also their bad hints. Just because they are friends of yours. Also – if you don’t listen to those who you don’t like, then you are ignoring the good hints that comes from their mouths. I believe in listening to everybody, and giving people the right to express their opinions. Then, put your filter on and decide what to believe and what not to believe.
Would I be willing to accept the advice of an accountant on wiring your house instead of an electrician, placing an instruction from the accountant on the same level as an instruction from the electrician.
First I want to point out that there’s no need to get paranoid about everything that’s being said and questioning everything all the time. No, the point is not to challenge authorities in every situation. The point is to (1) question your own beliefs and (2) to think what’s being said, not who said it – in situations that needs it. If you are having a dinner with your family, there’s no need to get into argument and ruin the evening just by the need to question ‘authority’ and just for the sake of ‘being right’. I’m saying that if you are choosing a 3D engine for your game you can critically analyze how suitable it really is for you, even if it’s recommended by your friend. Don’t pick the ‘best’ 3D engine just because somebody says so. Pick the 3D engine for the sake of your needs.
I would also like to point out, that if an accoutant with no wiring experience suggest something about wiring I wouldn’t take his advice. If an electrician (that really has done the job previously) suggest wiring the house in some way I would believe it – as mentioned: there’s no need to question everything all the time, just question something sometimes within reason. If a successful game developer would tell me to start doing casual games as they pay well I could consider his advice, but eventually think the reason why I’m doing games – and whether casual games are something I want to do or not.
(1) Think what’s being said, not who said it
(2) Don’t question everything all the time (dinners, wiring…)
(3) Question some issues, sometimes – within reason (picking engine, team members…)