A Slice of the Thirteenth 3/13/2016

Do you want to take a test?

I’m going to take the proffered silence as tacit compliance.

I’m going to give you a number line made up of three numbers. It is your job to discern the rule of the number line. You’ve probably done something similar in a math class before, yes? The difference is I will only be giving you one number line, not many. In order to determine the rule governing the number line you may ask me if another number line follows the same rule. You may ask me about as many number lines as you wish until you are certain of your answer. Do you understand?

Again… I’ll take your silence as yes.

Alright. The number line is…2,4,6

How many of you would have asked if the number line 8,10,12 worked ?

My answer would have been, “yes, that number line follows the rule.”

How many of you would have then asked, does 14,16,18 follow the rule?

Again, my answer would have been, “yes, that number line follows the rule.”

Would any of you have asked, as my friend Bethany did, if the number line 1,3,5 worked? (To ascertain if the rule dealt only with even numbers.)

Again, my answer would have been, “yes, that number line follows the rule.”

Or perhaps you would have been like my friend Rachael who didn’t respond with any number line but instead simply stated from the beginning, “The rule is that it increases by two.”

Would any of you have asked if 7,8,9 worked? Or perhaps if 6,4,2?

Do you want to know the answer? The rule is simply… “ascending numbers.” Therefore, any line that showed a rise (even -4,-3,-2) would have been correct.

The point of the test is to determine how you prove theories. You see, we human beings are disinclined to prove ourselves wrong. We have an instinct to prove ourselves right. (Therefore, most people only give number lines that prove their theory. i.e. growth by two’s). In our own lives we do the same. We seek out situations, people, confidants who will give credence to our beliefs. It is rare to find someone who has the presence of mind or the presence of will to proffer, what psychologists call “falsification” to find the truth or the proof we so naturally search out. However, psychologists and psychiatrists have proven these are the people (those who seek to know if their theory is wrong) who are the most well rounded, grounded, compassionate, understanding, flexible (you get the idea) people.

That is where the point of tonights blog comes out. I’d like to be able to say that I am one of the enlightened few who uses this rare gift of “falsification” on the everyday. I am not however, not so lucky as to have been blessed by constant presence of mind or will. I am human after all, and prone to failure.

That’s where Bethany and Rachael come in. That is where Chelsea and Izzy come in. That is where my mother, father, and brother come in. That is where people who I know and believe are my external measures of “falsification.” They listen to me ramble. They aren’t simply a sounding board to here my voice bounce back again. They aren’t simply mocking birds who repeat my sentiments back to me.

These people God have gifted me are those who ask of me, “Is it 7,8,9?” Or, “What about 6,4,2?” They don’t ask the simple or easy questions of me? They play devils advocate. They rally to the “other guys” defense. They keep me in my proper place. They often prove me wrong. And I am ever so grateful for it. (Though,perhaps not always in the moment.)

Sometimes the only way to be really right is to first be shown how you’re wrong.

…If that makes any sense.

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