Major Consensus Narrative, Asking Supposedly Hyper-Smart Questions and Being Context-Driven

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As the title might suggest, there is a mix of different ideas and questions in this post. We may even have Virginia Satir coming for a short visit. But at the end you will see - I hope - that everything is connected.

Very recently

I am not the only one who is convinced that reality is a social construction. There is no truth as such in pure form. Or as the saying goes, there are 4 truths; mine, yours, “The Truth” and what really happened. For those among you who understand German, I highly recommend episode 23 of the excellent Alternativlos podcast. You may listen to “Verschwörungstheorien, die sich später als wahr herausstellten” here.

What concerns me, is the major consensus narrative. It is what the majority has agreed on to be true. To link that to the context-driven school of software testing: Are we in love with the idea of having found “The Truth”? Do we run in danger of reciting self-enforcing mantras that might be wrong? How do we know if we wander astray?

These are important questions that need to be asked. Martin Jansson - on the other hand - reported on his test lab experience at Let’s Test conference and told how some of the more seasoned testers almost brought his efforts to a halt by not stopping to ask questions. Paul Holland told the story of James Bach having become an unstoppable questioner at a peer conference.

Is it always good to ask questions? How long and how many? When do I stop? Is it a “Just because I can” attitude to prove that I am hyper-smart? I have a potpourri of questions I recently asked myself:

1. Is there a moment when asking questions becomes counter-productive?
a) If yes, when exactly and what does happen then?
b) If no, how do you know?

2. Does puzzle solving make you a better tester?
a) If yes, what exactly is the mechanism?
b) If no, is the effect neutral or negative?

3. Should we bash certified testers who are proud of their certifications?
a) If yes, what do we want to achieve with that action?
b) If no, why do we let these people spread ideas about bad testing?

4. Is having a high intelligence level a prerequisite for being a good context-driven tester?
a) If yes, what definition of intelligence is applicable?
b) If no, how can it be substituted and by what?

5. Is it true that many tester struggle with what a heuristic and an oracle are?
a) If yes, what is your explanation that it is so?
b) If no, where is your data?

6. Can YOU give a quick explanation to somebody who doesn’t understand the concept?
a) If yes, how do you know you were understood?
b) If no, what part are you struggling with?

7. Is there a subject/topic that has no relevance whatsoever to the context-driven software tester?
a) If yes, can you give an explanation that entails detailed reasons of its inapplicability?
b) If no, how come?

I have my answers to the questions. But, please, my friends, post YOURS in the comments below. I would love to see a variety of reasonings.

You may have asked yourself at the beginning of this post what the fragment “Very recently” was doing there without culminating in a full sentences. That is a valid question. You might even have formed a hypothesis about what it was doing there. “Just an editing error”, “probably a section title”, “haven’t noticed”, “maybe it is clickable”, “semantic ambiguity of hypnotic language” could have been some of the guesses.

I promised in the entry sentences that at the end everything will be connected. Actually, it is not at all; this post is very messy. Please, don’t shout at me because of that. And Virginia Satir might be in one of the next posts. I’d definitely like to talk about her.

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