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Please Apply Critical Thinking

Last week I gave a software testing training and when we arrived to chapter about experienced based testing, one of my students asked: “do you mean monkey testing?” I tried to stay as calm as I can and asked back: “what is monkey testing?” She started to describe it with several examples. And to each of her example as summary I asked: “so you mean negative testing? …could it be that in this case you mean reliability testing?” and so on. Another students jumped in and said that he is doing monkey testing as well and gave few examples and I again asked questions: “so you mean stress testing?

After few minutes they stopped, all class looked at me and asked what is then monkey testing. I asked back: “how do you know that it exist?” Almost immediately both replied: “our developers call it like this. I was new to testing and thought it is a thing.

I like to believe that developers, when they named something monkey testing, did not want to harm testers. I also think it is absurd that monkey testing has a wikipedia page, but Lisa Crispin does not. 20 years ago when I studied computer science, I was not taught what software testing is. I keep hearing that this is still the case in majority of universities and technical schools where program developers learn their craft. How you call something you don’t understand and don’t want to understand? Witchcraft? Magic? But if you don’t think it is important or valuable?

Testing is about seeing behind visible, hearing unspoken, sensing strange vibes. Listen to what people are saying, but don’t assume that it is 100% correct. There is no one truth! Each of us has our own truth, coloured by our experiences, knowledge, relationships. Don’t believe something just because it has wikipedia page, people who wrote and edit it are biased as well, just like you and me.

What to do? Apply critical thinking!

A statement by Michael Scriven & Richard Paul, presented at the 8th Annual International Conference on Critical Thinking and Education Reform, 1987:

Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. In its exemplary form, it is based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness.

Pretty complex statement, right? Here is simpler version from Wikipedia:

Critical thinking is the analysis of facts to form a judgement.

How do you form a judgement? It is much easier to believe somebody who shares information with confidence. Especially if that somebody is a person with status or power. Teen years are partly so hard for parents, because they are not ready to loose their status and power as main information bearers for their children. It is easy to manipulate those who depend on you, impossible if they don’t. To learn and to apply critical thinking looks like lifelong task. You cannot question everything. What is important to question?

My story on critical thinking

Very early I learned that grownups, who say lying is bad, lie themselves. I remember that situation very vividly because it changed my life. Since that moment I never believed one-sided story. I always question motives and seek opposite version to come up with my decision. This is how I run.

What do you think – monkey testing does exist?

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