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Assumption Digging

The metaphor of assumption digging comes from archaeology. Imagine being an archaeologist who has discovered what looks like the top of an ancient ruin. You would like to uncover that ruin. In order to do that, you will have to dig. As you dig, you realize that parts of the building are not in great shape. You have to repair them before you dig further in order to preserve the structure. In this analogy, the top of the building represents conclusions, intermediate floors of the building represent intermediate conclusions, the walls and pillars represent justification, and the foundation of the building represents the axioms, undefined entities, and definitions the theory is built from. Parts of the building in bad shape represent hidden assumptions or bad arguments.

All of us have a large number of beliefs we have never delved into. Many of these beliefs are based on faulty assumptions and bad reasoning. However, none of us are aware of what those are. So, if something breaks down, it is hard to diagnose why.

This blog post was written by Madhav.