Thursday, August 13, 2009

Facts vs. Beliefs

Last night I was on my deck watching the Perseid meteor shower. I started wondering what our ancestors must have thought about events like this. I was thinking that they must have had all sorts of weird superstitious beliefs about omens and such. Laying there watching the sky gave me lots of time to think. The more I thought about it I started wondering what someone several thousand years in the future would think about my beliefs regarding the meteor shower. To me they are facts that I know. I am sure that to our ancestors their beliefs were also facts that they knew with absolute certainty. This means that my facts may in fact be only a belief and not really a fact. In the future they may think that our current beliefs about space, meteor showers, etc. are quaint, superstitious beliefs because they have discovered some new facts.

What does all this have to do with computers? Many people have beliefs regarding computers that they see as facts. One example of this is the fact that OS X is more secure than Windows. An alternate fact, just as wrong, would be that Windows 7 is more secure than OS X. My belief about this fact is that you can't measure how secure an OS is so the question is moot. My point is we all have many beliefs about computers. Many of these beliefs, which currently are thought of as facts, will probably change over time. Don't get too comfortable with the facts.