Ravi Mohan's Blog

Thursday, January 05, 2006

On admitting what you got wrong

from Jeffrey Shallit's blog.

....Blondlot's tale is a cautionary one. By contrast, I offer a case where the proper behavior was displayed, from Richard Dawkins' 1996 Richard Dimbleby lecture:

A formative influence on my undergraduate self was the response of a respected elder statesmen of the Oxford Zoology Department when an American visitor had just publicly disproved his favourite theory. The old man strode to the front of the lecture hall, shook the American warmly by the hand and declared in ringing, emotional tones: "My dear fellow, I wish to thank you. I have been wrong these fifteen years." And we clapped our hands red. Admitting you are wrong is a basic part of the mathematical and scientific ethic. ...

I think it ought to be part of one's personal ethic too.

So here is a (tongue firmly attached to cheek) list of what I was wrong about. Be warned, this is a jumbled list of "lessons learned" and is intrinsically very subjective. Don't expect any coherence.

  1. Ruby has a perl flavor.
  2. Ruby is way better than Java.
  3. A software developer in Bangalore can't do innovative, interesting work and make good money.
  4. Developing Enterprise Software, especially "outsourced" software is a worthwhile career.
  5. A knowledge of Mathematics/Programming Language Theory -insert other 'deep' subject here- is unnecessary to build good software.
  6. Mathematics is boring
  7. There is plenty of time to find out what to do in life and there is plenty of time to do it.
  8. Objects are the best way to design programs.
  9. Programmers are logical people and not prone to delusions and religious mania.
  10. Agile Methodologies will work (better than what they are already doing) for most teams/products.
  11. Most managers have a clue about their work/organizations/what their jobs are all about.
  12. It is impossible to make massive amounts of money doing nothing/ by making other people miserable/delivering negative value (see above).
  13. All managers are technically clueless.
  14. In practice, Management, specially in the offshored software world, really adds value and is not a big con game.
  15. It is impossible to combine being a manager (to get those massive salaries while doing nothing important) and a techie (to retain a of self worth and give life meaning).
  16. Dilbert is fiction.
  17. One person can't change the world
  18. You have to be extra ordinarily talented to change the world.
  19. The software industry is immune to political correctness fads because it is populated by logical, edcucated people (witness the noise around "diversity" or "we need more women in software")
  20. Engineers can't master business and are bad at "reading the market", "understanding business value" etc and need support in the form of analysts/managers.
  21. Some behaviours are so morally dubious that people who indulge in them exist only in fiction . Even if such people exist in the real world, they are very rare and you won't encounter them.
  22. If you know a person well, you can predict what he or she will or will not do.
  23. Talented people have a greater probability of being morally upright.
  24. In real life the good guys don't always win.
  25. Believing in God is better than being an atheist/agnostic.
  26. Being an atheist/agnostic is better than being a believer.

Duh, I'd better stop now :-)