Knowledge does not progress merely by gathering data, but by looking for contradictory data.
Many a times we like to make decisions based on available data. You want to buy a car and you start looking out based on your budget and interest. In the process we ask our friends as to what their recommendation is and take in their suggestions. We go with the popular choice and then make our own decision.
In this process, we usually would like to hear only the positives of the observations and do not ask what the potential problems might be in the maintenance of the car.
Five years ago, when I was looking to change my car, I walked up to the Honda show room. The Civic was one of the possible product I was looking for, but I did hear about the low ground clearance and the problems it might give over the period of time when the chases keeps hitting the ground at Speed breakers and bad roads. I shared with the sales person about this observation which I found to be disturbing. The sales person immediately took me to his desk, and told me “I will give you contacts of 20 people who own this car across various regions in the state. Call them from here and even if 1 person says that they faced problems because of this, I suggest you don’t buy this car.” I really liked the confidence of him and chose to call few numbers. I did call and no one gave me any negative answer.
My impression on the car and the reviews changed completely and I was ready to buy. I never picked it up for other reasons, but was completely convinced with the car.
Knowingly or unknowingly I used contradictory data to challenge my assumptions and today, I can correlate to this aspect.
When you are working on an idea, help identify the contradictory data – what if this does not happen, what if this market analysis does not work etc. This gives the power for you to be prepared in case if things don’t go as expected.