Bacon and boundary testing

Today was the first day of the WHET #4 (Workshop on Heuristic and Exploratory Testing). The topic for the workshop is boundary testing, and it's currently attended by:

  • Henrik Andersson

  • Ross Collard

  • Tim Coulter

  • James Bach

  • Jon Bach

  • Scott Barber

  • David Gilbert

  • Dawn Haynes

  • Doug Hoffman

  • Paul Holland

  • Karen Johnson

  • Cem Kaner

  • Michael Kelly

  • Sam Kalman

  • Rob Sabourin

  • Keith Stobie

I can sum my impression of the conversation today with some Francis Bacon. I think we spent a lot of time exploring idols of the Marketplace and idols of the Theater.

Idols of the Marketplace are errors arising from the false significance bestowed upon words, and in this classification Bacon anticipated the modern science of semantics. According to him it is the popular belief that men form their thoughts into words in order to communicate their opinions to others, but often words arise as substitutes for thoughts and men think they have won an argument because they have out talked their opponents. The constant impact of words variously used without attention to their true meaning only in turn condition the understanding and breed fallacies. Words often betray their own purpose, obscuring the very thoughts they are designed to express.

Idols of the Theater are those which are due to sophistry and false learning. These idols are built up in the field of theology, philosophy, and science, and because they are defended by learned groups are accepted without question by the masses. When false philosophies have been cultivated and have attained a wide sphere of dominion in the world of the intellect they are no longer questioned. False superstructures are raised on false foundations, and in the end systems barren of merit parade their grandeur on the stage of the world.

We spent a lot of time talking about definitions, the scope of "boundary testing", and looked at a couple of real examples. It was good, but I felt like we got hung up a lot on the idols. More can be found here.