Testing is the pursuit of relevant incongruityAfter hearing me out, one of the participants asked a strong, strong question: did I think my definition of testing could also define something else? I love this. It's a way to test the explanatory power of the proposal. On the day, I think I said that I thought it could also be a description of science.
Yesterday, I read a review of The Happy Brain by Dean Burnett in which Katy Guest said:
He rattles through studies, building a picture of what exactly tickles the human brain and why ... Laughter, it turns out, may originate among the temporal, occipital and parietal lobes, whose role is to "detect and resolve incongruity".Bzzzzzttttt!!!!! Arrooogggaaa!!!! Honk! Honk! And with a jolt of recognition, I realised only 18 months after the fact, that I would also say my definition could describe joking.
I get a rush from finding unexpected connections in unexpected places and this is a particularly intense high because at EuroSTAR 2015 I aligned testing with joking (and science) by appealing to the similarity of the aha! and haha! moments and an incongruity theory of humour.
But so what? Well, for me, this episode is a nice self-reminder that conclusions are relative. What you think you know is contingent on variables including you, the context, the data, and the time. Like me, on this occasion, you might not see even what's right under your nose until tomorrow, or perhaps never.