Anti-Conceptual Mentality in Action

by Jason Stotts

I don’t usually talk about myself on my blog, because this blog is about ideas and not its author.  I also don’t usually talk about my part time job, because I’m not exactly proud of it.  However, something happened yesterday that was so funny I can’t help but to relate it to you, dear reader.

I work in the wireless industry and part of my job is to help customers that have problems with their phones. Well, yesterday a customer came in complaining that her new phone, that she just got, was not as loud as her old phone. I asked to see it, to make sure that the volume was as high as it could go.  It was at the max, which was 7.  I told her that it was as high as it could go.  She looked at me and, being completely serious, told me that her old phone was better, because it went all the way to 10, which was louder than 7.

I felt like I was having a Spinal Tap moment and if I wasn’t so sure she was serious, I would have thought she was playing a joke on me, but unfortunately she wasn’t.

As sad as it was, it’s a great example of an anti-conceptual mindset.  Since the number 10 is greater than the number 7, that must indicate that the old phone was louder than the new one.  However, those numbers are arbitrary and don’t reference any facts of reality.  If they had been set in a standard, like decibels, then it might have been a cogent thing to say.  But, because she could not look beyond the numbers themselves to the real underlying phenomena, she couldn’t understand what was really happening.

Just in case you’re wondering, I did look it up and, yes, the new phone had a higher decibel rating and was objectively louder.

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