Monday, August 08, 2005

A strategy to find assumptions

About this post

Type of technique: assumption finding

Technique in a nutshell: Say you want to list assumptions about the moon, for example. You can set a directive 'name assumptions about the moon'. But you can also modify that directive with set words (such as time, place, person). Thus: 'Name person assumptions about the moon'. Possible answers: we assume only people have visited the moon, we assume that people have gone to the moon.

A Strategy to Find Assumptions

I've been using this approach to help find assumptions.

Imagine a bomb-damaged tree at an old WWII air base - such as Biggin Hill. A number of assumptions are automatically made about the bomb-damaged tree. In the search for assumptions a directive such as:

List assumptions about the bomb-damaged tree

can be made. However, this can be modified using the category headings:

Time (duration) Place (area) Thing (object) Person Doing (Activity) Being (Is) Having (Has) Saying (utterance) Knowledge

If I select 'time' from the category headings I can rewrite the directive thus:

List time-assumptions about the bomb-damaged tree

I reckon that my first time-assumption is that the bomb damage occured during WWII. Maybe the damage could have occured at some other time?

If I select the 'duration' part of the category I make the directive:

List duration-assumptions about the bomb-damaged tree

Which makes me realise I assume the damage occured at one time. Maybe the tree could have been damaged on more than one occasion in the war or whenever.

Using 'person(s)' gives the directive:

List person(s)-assumptions about the bomb-damaged tree

which makes me realise I'd assumed the damage was caused by German bombers. Maybe the tree could have been damaged by a plane colliding with it and detonating its bombs etc.

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