Sunday, May 13, 2018

Tomorrow Never Nose

At CEWT #3, back in October 2016, I presented a definition of testing I had been toying with, a definition which later became this:
Testing is the pursuit of relevant incongruity
After 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.
Image: Recordmecca


  1. One of the interesting and serendipitous things about the Ministry of Testing blog feeds page is that I keep on finding that on any given day, there may be two or three testers blogging on similar themes - I don't just mean on technical issues of the day like "Opinions on the Scruggs Wondertest framework", but on broader themes. So it is today. Yours is perhaps the third post I've seen about "making connections". Earlier, another poster talked about spoken languages and how knowing a number of different languages enabled them to see connections between them.

    Making previously unimagined connections between causes and effects is quite possibly one of the key skills behind testing; but I'm not certain that it's a skill that can be taught. It is, however, a skill that can be learned, given the right examples.

    1. Hi Robert, could you say something about the kinds of examples you think can help with the learning how to make connections?