23 Consistency

The Consistency of Your Premise Components

Another tool that ensures a strong premise is consistency, which is the way that premise elements support each other. For example, let's say you read glowing reviews for a restaurant on several review websites—dozens of them, and all were great. A few of your friends also ate at the restaurant and loved it too, and the American Automobile Association (AAA) rated it high. A newspaper article on the place rated it top-notch. The restaurant has been in business for 23 years. These observations are very consistent and would make you confident the restaurant is good. Then you read one review from a person who hated the place and said the service was slow, the food was cold, and the server was nasty. This review is inconsistent with everything else—but because there are so many positive reviews against the one negative review, you probably would discount it.

Premises are stronger when their components are consistent. However, inconsistency isn't necessarily a bad thing; it identifies conflicting information, which yields a suspicious, weak premise. When you understand why there's conflicting information, or if you can resolve the inconsistency, your premise becomes stronger. Let's say you're shopping online at Amazon.com. You're looking for an item you usually buy for around $20. Most of the items you observe online are also in the $20 range, but you see one for $14. Because that price is inconsistent with your experience and ...

Get Think Smarter: Critical Thinking to Improve Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Skills now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.