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The power of investigation


“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all argument, and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance. This principle is, contempt prior to examination.” – William Paley

I’ve noticed that I possess an unfortunate characteristic.  I’m not sure if it’s because in my first eight years of school I had a total of one year of science.  Or maybe it was my magical, mystical mother for whom leprechauns were more real than things like balancing checkbooks.  Maybe it’s intellectual laziness or moral turpitude. Or a belief in what my brother calls “FM” – which, since this is a family-friendly blog, I’ll translate to “Flipping Magic.”

I realize lately how often I don’t investigate situations or beliefs.  How I can, in some areas, skip over the laws of causation.  So then, things DO appear either magical or murky to me, when, often, they need not.

Yesterday I had a job interview at a company that I have said repeatedly would be my ‘last resort’.  I had 3 reasons for this (at least this part wasn’t vague!):  a) they pay sub-market; b) their location creates a very long commute; c) I’ve heard that the corporate culture is not pleasant.

One of my recruiters had approached me with an opportunity at what I’ll call Company A.  Having raised objections about them in the past he told me the rate they were paying – while not top market dollar for the position involved, it was within range, at least.  Objection a overcome.  I was still VERY iffy, but decided to do a little INVESTIGATION.  So I sent an email to people I knew had worked at Company A in IT – one as a consultant, one as a contractor (since I am looking at a contractor job I didn’t seek out any employees).  The consultant got back to me with very detailed, specific mostly positive remarks.  The ‘negative’ remarks were ones that could be applied to most huge, bureaucratic companies and no worse than the last place I worked. Hmm, objection c at least opened up for review.

I decided to time (in mileage and minutes) the commute to the interview.  The location of Company A still seemed like “the ends of the earth” to me.  Imagine my surprise when it was almost EXACTLY the same as Company B, for whom I worked as a contractor for a total of two years.  Yes, it’s a long drive (45 minutes in non-rush hour) but no worse than one I just took as “part of the job” at Company B.

One other immediate example comes to mind.  I was recently at a party at which I thought there would be dinner type food served and it turned out to be mostly snacks.  I was way hungry and there was this dip.  It was white, so I was worried that it was onion dip – you see, my body and raw onions are worst enemies and have been for decades.  I tentatively took a bite and decided it was horseradish.  Man, it was good!  So I ate about a million carrots and celery sticks with the yummy dip. And then my hostess refilled the bowl from the container.  Yup.  French Onion Dip.  Knowing how my body reacts (24+ hours of intense intestinal discomfort) I felt panicky.  I confessed all of this to my friend Kate, who is a health educator.  She said “why don’t you just take digestive enzymes?  that will likely help this occurence and you SHOULD be taking them with every meal anyway.”  She went on to give me an enzyme pill to take and then gave me a digestive helping routine to try (for the record:  2 oz aloe vera juice plus probiotics upon arising, 15 minutes before taking any other food/drink, then an enzyme tablet before each meal).  That was about two weeks ago and I have to say I have had NO digestive upset since.

I do think my stoicism and the way in which I value “being tough” can be virtues.  I’ve had to be tough to get here and in that way it has served me well. But I see that it can also be blindness, keeping me from simple solutions that make my life better.

I’m doing a lot to help G4 (Generation 4 – my grandnieces/grandnephews) in my family to embrace math and science.  Perhaps I too need to embrace the power of investigation.  The laws of cause and effect.

How about you? Are you a magician or a mathematician? Do you embrace mystery or science?  For an intriguing look at both, check out my friend Julia’s new blog “Unfolding Science“.  And I very much welcome YOUR thoughts right here!

 

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