The lazy way to get lost

SatNav devices are wonderful pieces of technology, they benefit the motorist and take out a lot of the stress involved in finding a location. That said, it is dangerous to rely exclusively on any one idea, oracle, prophet, sign etc.

For example, on one long journey I knew roughly where I was going and which roads I would take. Early on in that journey, a motorway matrix sign told me part of my intended route was blocked and recommended another route. I took the advice (when a motorway is blocked for two exits you just know it’s going to be gridlock for miles) and switched my route, confident that the SatNav would recalculate. This saved me having to stop and look at the map to figure out the new route. Great, but what I didn’t expect was a route that took me close to the centre of London. I didn’t want to be in London, I wanted to go around it, but the SatNav figured this was the quickest route. It wasn’t.

When I arrived at my destination I had time to look at the road atlas and retrace my steps. They didn’t make much sense when alternatives were considered. Had I known, I would have chosen another road.

Here is the thing. I could have trusted the SatNav unquestioningly and accepted that every suggestion it made was the best one or, if I had bothered to check and discovered an error I could have blamed the device and claimed it didn’t work and so never used it again. This is how most people behave with established ideas, especially religions.

But this is a mistake. The SatNav has an option for the user to check the route. I should have stopped and reviewed the idea that the SatNav had about how to get there. If I didn’t like the overall idea I could always change it – it has that option – and told it to follow my idea instead. I still wouldn’t have to worry about the details, the SatNav would do that.

And so it is with dogma. For whatever reasons it becomes inviolable. Instead, it should be considered as a suggested idea, probably a good one. This idea should be checked out against other ideas and if confirmed or if there is no known alternative, go with it.

But if it looks like a bad idea, amend and update it with something more suitable. Let’s not get too precious about ideas, nor lazy about evaluating them if they seems to work well at the time.

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