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False Dichotomies

Published 9/18/2015

In today's episode, we're talking about ways to avoid false dichotomies.

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Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Hey, we want to welcome to Developer Tea. My name is Jonathan Cutrell and today I'm going to be talking to you about the fallacy of exhaustive hypotheses and why you should avoid false delimits. Thanks so much to today's sponsor, Hired.com. If you or someone you know is a designer or a developer and you're looking for a job, check out Hired.com. Later on in the show we'll talk about Hired a little bit more and we'll give you a code that you can use to get a bigger bonus if you decide to accept a job from Hired. Thanks again to Hired.com. I listened to a lot of audiobooks and I recently came across a book called Decisive. Now Decisive is written by the Heath Brothers who also wrote Made to Stick and Switch. I have not read either one of these books. Made to Stick was a number one bestseller in epistemology philosophy. I don't even know what that is exactly but it was a number one bestseller. It was released back in 2007. But I'm listening to this book called Decisive and one of the ideas that the Heath Brothers kind of turned me on to was this idea of the false dichotomy. We're probably all aware of this but I wanted to talk about it on this show because I think we don't keep it at the forefront of our minds as much as we should. Now you know that I like to talk about making decisions and making good decisions more appropriately and I think that this is one of the most overlooked parts of making decisions and that is avoiding false dichotomies. So in simple terms a false dichotomy is when you act as though there are only two or a limited number of choices. It's usually a dichotomy but it could be three or four things. Either way you limit the number of choices that you actually have but the reality is different than that. The reality is that there are many choices perhaps an infinite number of choices. And we see these kinds of questions come up from people all the time. I've even gotten these on the Developer Teaemail. For example should I go to school or not? Well the reality of that question is that it's ignoring multiple options. For example should you go to school now or later or should you go to school on campus or should you explore alternative school types alternative universities maybe online courses for example. Sometimes there are a limited number of options available but most of the time we are either placing these restrictions on ourselves or we are creating a dichotomy. We are creating these options that are binary or perhaps there are discrete number of options when the reality is different and this leads us to ignore alternative solutions. So for example I've gotten questions like should I learn Ruby or Python. This is a very common question for web developers should I learn Ruby or Python and the answer may be neither or the answer may be both or it could be one or the other but what you're really asking is what should I learn. Perhaps you've taken the time to narrow down from all of the available maybe dynamic languages to Ruby and Python and you're trying to choose between the two but perhaps you are simply thinking well Ruby and Python seem like good options now I'm going to create a dichotomy between the two and try to choose one to learn. It's important that we're aware of situations where we do this so that we can avoid creating false dichotomies that are actually not beneficial to us or that may actually hurt our efforts. So I'm going to give you guys a few tips as to how to avoid false dichotomies that could hurt you. Number one remember that technology is constantly advancing it's constantly growing very seldomly are you going to experience that a tool set or language has only one or two options that will work there are usually substitutions especially for larger framework or tool set language those level of things if there is a particular category of tool that isn't too narrow usually they're going to be many different substituting technologies that you could use if you wanted to. So don't create for example a false dichotomy between express JS and Rails. These are not the only options in their space in fact within each language for JavaScript or for Ruby there are many other frameworks that you could choose from that accomplish similar goals as express and Rails accomplish and even then you could look beyond JavaScript and Ruby to many many other frameworks that accomplish similar goals that may suit your needs even better than Rails or express ever could. So when you're choosing technology tools remember that technology is always advancing and there are usually substitute tools that you could choose from so be certain that you have good reasoning behind choosing what you do choose. Now with that said since I'm on the subject I do think it's incredibly important that we do not switch tools too often it's very easy especially in this industry to be tool happy we we get a lot of tools under our belt but ultimately we don't know how to use any single one of them to a masterful level so I would say be careful in trying to acquire too many tools and trying to master too many tools you should be aware of a large number of these or at least understand what they would be used for and if you have to choose something for a project then you should assess those different tools but don't try to acquire every new tool that comes out because you quite simply cannot do it. It's going to continue being faster and faster and you won't be able to keep up it will be too difficult to be able to master anything and you'll simply just be going through a new tutorial the Hello World tutorial every single day because there's a new tool coming out all the time. Now before I talk about the second point which has to do with income and employment I want to talk about our sponsor hired dot com on hired software engineers and designers get five or more job offers in a given week all of these jobs have salary and equity up front they have full time and contracts opportunities available at over 2500 pre screened companies in 12 major tech hubs around the world so if that wasn't enough though if you sign on with hired you will get a $2,000 thank you bonus but if you use our special link which will be in the show notes that bonus doubles to $4,000 now if you know somebody who is looking for a job and is a engineer or a designer they can get a the $4,000 bonus and you can get a $1337 bonus just for recommending them and just for sending them over to hired so check it out hire dot com of course the link will be in the show notes to double your bonus if you accept a job through hired thanks again to hire dot com. And this leads me directly into my second point which is to never dichotomize your income situation never dichotomize your income situation a lot of people assume that they either have to quit their job and go to a new job or they have to stay in their current position now the reality is very different from that if you are looking at your income you're saying I need more money it's very possible that you aren't asking the right questions or you think you need the wrong things for example is it that you actually need more money or is it that you want better overhead you could create better overhead by having a higher effective amount of money by eliminating cost in your life for example you could sell a car or get a more efficient car you could eliminate cable or something that you pay for on a monthly basis that you don't use very often there are many ways of increasing your effective income without actually increasing your absolute income. And ideas like this can range from very tame like stop paying for a cable bill all the way to the very extreme like sell your car and move out of your house and stop your lease so that you can travel if you are looking to travel and that is why you want to make more money well there's no need for your house to sit without somebody in it so why not stop your rent if you are in an apartment or perhaps rent out your house maybe through something like Airbnb there's so many ways that you can change your income situation so creating a false dichotomy it limits your options and it doesn't take advantage of the creativity that is naturally in your brain take stock for example of whether or not you have upward mobility from your current position at your current place of employment you can also consider starting a second job perhaps freelance on the side or maybe something entirely different from what you do in your day job. Now my point in today's podcast is not to solve your money problems nor is it to teach you how to make money on the side or create your own business there are plenty of other podcasts that talk about that stuff at length and their tons of books etc but instead my point is to get you to think about your income situation in a little bit of a different light. When making decisions like this if you run into what seems like a dichotomy you should always ask yourself the question of what you want to affect not what you think you want but instead what you want to affect in this particular scenario you want to affect your current income or more accurately you want to affect your current disposable income most likely. This very quickly shows you that there are far more than two options available to affect your disposable income and this really leads me to number three on my list to help you avoid these false economies number three is when making decisions analyze the points of restriction in other words determine what is actually creating the restrictions on your options I think you will be surprised to find out that quite often the restrictions that you have seen on your options are actually an illusion they don't actually exist and sometimes when you determine the points of restrictions on your options you can actually work at those points of restrictions to release them a little bit in other words to give you more options by eliminating those points of restriction as developers we often have the unique opportunity to not only remove the restrictions on our options but to actually create new options where they didn't exist before if you can't find a framework that you are happy with which would be a surprise because there are so many frameworks out there but let's say that you couldn't find a framework that you were happy with then you have every opportunity to create that framework now giving yourself the support monetarily to do so that may be a bit of a different story but that is an entirely different set of restrictions that you can deal with in their own discrete way of course this podcast is far too short to be able to cover all of the ways that you can deal with false dichotomies but once again my goal here is to start conversations start talking with your friends and your colleagues and your family about how you make decisions and how you can avoid the hurtful false dichotomies that you may find yourself in there are likely many of you who will experience something very similar to a false dichotomy today and I would like for you to talk through the options with the people that you're sitting with and with the people that are making the decision with you and try to take the the step back and look at what is causing your options to be limited determine whether or not you can remove those pressure points remove those particular points of restriction and instead begin to view your decisions as a more fluid landscape this allows you to pull the good parts of particular points in your decisions pull them together to make a more informed total decision and one that is a consensus of all of the options and all the good parts of the options and is actually more like a hybrid decision or a hybrid option. Thank you so much for listening to Developer Tea today I hope that this will start a conversation with you and your friends and your family and your colleagues if you have any comments for today's show let me know you can reach out to me on Twitter at at Developer Teawhere you can email me at developertea@gmail.com I also love receiving questions from you guys and I would love to answer what you have to ask on the show thanks so much for listening and thank you again to hired dot com if you are an engineer or a designer or you know someone who is and you're looking for a job hired dot com is a great place to start hired is bridging the gap between brand new tech companies and people who are looking to work at those tech companies over twenty five hundred companies in twelve different cities you can get a two thousand dollar signing bonus but if you use the link in the show notes which you can find at spec dot fm that link will give you the opportunity to make double that bonus that's four thousand dollar bonus if you choose to accept a job through hired thank you again to hired dot com and thank you for listening and until next time enjoy your tea.