Wednesday, October 22, 2014

#stop29119. Campaign? Or a classic example of the "We Have to Do Something" fallacy?

 There is no denying that there has been a lot of activity regarding ISO29119 since August of this year and it doesn't seem like its going to be dying down anytime soon. The standard has certainly created a rift in the training and consulting space that has aggravated a long time rivalry between two schools of thought.

Now, in order to run a successful and, more importantly, profitable business we need to be able to compete and use any tool at our disposal to reach our vision, this includes public debates and functions. One of the things we must keep in mind when talking about standards and certifications is that its a business, most folks know this already but if you don't now you do. And its a business whether you issue a certificate at the end of the training or not, by the way. Its a business with a bottom line just like Sears. Its a business that needs to fight for its existence or fall prey to its competition.

Aside from a response from Stuard Reid the WG convenor, the ISO camp has been fairly quiet throughout this debacle. This hasn't been the case for the stop campaign side, however. From them we see statements used like: "where is your skin in the game" or "if the standard is approved all testers will be forced to succumb to and abide by it". You also read some folks say "you'll be forced to produce tons of wasteful documentation" or "before your every move you'll need to get a sign off" when talking or interacting (via social media) with folks that either don't know of the petitions' existence or have decided to abstain from signing it for a variety of different reasons.

In following this debate on Twitter, LinkedIn and the web (via individual's blogs). I have noticed a pattern in the rhetoric used by the stop campaign folks which I believe its an almost perfect implementation of the "Scare Tactic"[*1] argument which inevitably leads to a "We Have to Do Something"[*2] fallacy. In other words the standard is going to be so bad that we should all unite and do something, no matter what that something is. Even if the something is just to stop the darn thing. Sounds counter productive doesn't it? Why not offer a real solution rather than a call to arms? This is the part that has me, and a lot of others, baffled a bit.

Finally, and for the record once again, I want to be clear that I am not saying that the arguments raised by James Christie based on his own experiences and knowledge is in any way shape or form invalid. I am saying, however, that the ensuing madness does appear to fall within the model of a "Scare Tactic" and "We Have to Do Something" fallacies.

I'm not advocating for just silently accepting the standard either, I'm advocating for doing your own research and coming to your own conclusions based on your own independent investigation.

Even if one believes the allegations expressed by the supporters of the stop campaign it makes you wonder why the scare tactic? As humans we are thinking creatures. We like to be presented with information and be able to analyze that information and come up with our own conclusions. But when things are framed in a way that it is meant to scare or force people into signing, it makes one wonder if there is anything more to this debate. Anything more than business profit, business market share, and of course the all important human mind share.

What say you?

[*1] Scare Tactic (Also Paranoia): A variety of Playing on Emotions, a raw appeal to fear. A corrupted argument from Pathos.(E.g., "If you don't do what I say we're all gonna die! In this moment of crisis you can't afford the luxury of thinking or trying to second-guess my decisions. Our very lives are in peril!  We need united action, now!")

[*2] We Have to Do Something: The dangerous contemporary fallacy that in moments of crisis one must do something, anything, at once, even if it is an overreaction, is totally ineffective or makes the situation worse, rather than "just sit there doing nothing." (E.g., "Banning air passengers from carrying ham sandwiches onto the plane probably does nothing to deter potential hijackers, but we have to do something to respond to this crisis!") This is a corrupted argument from pathos.

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