Interfaces, science and faith

Tonight I attended a CHISIG presentation by Craig Errey, the managing director of PTGGlobal about their XPDesign &tm; design methodology and framework.

Basically, they have tried to come up with a rigourous and repeatable process for delivering the most usable design from the start. It’s a very interesting goal, but unfortunately we didn’t get to learning much about it due to the constant arguments from the audience.

PTGGlobal appear to have attempted to apply a scientific methodology, setting theoretical limits on the best achievable outcomes for the design and attempting to get as close as possible to those limits. This appared to offend the more design oriented of the audience who preferred to think of design as unquantifiable.

I’m just a novice in the human interface area, but what really got up my nose was when audience members implied that XPDesign conflicted with such and such’s methods, implying that it couldn’t be valid.

I believe that one of the differences between the “hard sciences”, such as mathematics and physics, and the “soft sciences”, such as psychology and economics, along with the arts, is that the latter group’s use of statement’s such as “but Jung has stated…” or “but that conflicts with Keynsian theories (and therefor cannot be true). The identify themselves with an individual’s statements largely on faith rather than relying on quantifiable evidence that supports or proves a viewpoint.Just because such and such is a bigwig and they say something, doesn’t mean that their statement is true. That’s religion, not science.

Physicist’s don’t take everything Einstein said as gospel, just because he is recognised as a physics genius. They use individual theories and equations that he generated, but only where they are backed up by experimental evidence or theoretical underpinings and subject to the assumptions of a problem. Where those assumptions fail, such as for Einsteinian gravity in a quantum realm, the theory becomes invalid.

If you aren’t prepared to consider a subject from an analytical viewpoint and are prepared to base your beliefs on the opinions of others, it’s not science you are doing, but religion.

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