Likely outcomes

March 9, 2020
 by Paul McGowan

Engineers are like doctors. They mostly spout facts and figures and answer specific questions with specific answers—helpful if that’s what you are looking for, but rarely do they give you the big picture.

For example, if we’re in a discussion about designing a practical woofer system and I say, “It seems this driver is really inefficient. How many watts are we going to need to drive this thing?” That’s a very specific question with a much broader implication. One engineer might answer “4,000 watts” while another might respond, “4,000 watts, which of course is not going to work because you cannot get that out of the wall socket”.

Adding that last little piece of information, which tells us specifics followed with likely outcomes, is the key to understanding, yet so often missing in today’s world of hyper information.

If you’re visiting your doctor because you have a cold and ask, “is it alright to take this medicine?” many will give you a straight yes or no. The better answer might be, “sure, though it won’t help curing your cold.”

How often do I get asked if this or that is the right amplifier for them? “Is the BHK the best amplifier you know of?” An easy reply is “Yup”, but a more helpful answer might be, “Yup, depending on what you’re trying to achieve.”

Doing our best to rise above the specifics to understand the big picture is often tiresome, but always worth the work.

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