Rant: Rants, Streaks, and the Lack of Intellectual Curiosity

My last two blog posts for ConversionXL have lead to a great deal of controversial comments, which means they did their job. My goal was in no way to troll the industry or to beat down easy targets, it was instead to challenge a number of things that get held up as shields of competence. While my first article on Designer’s and their myths got plenty of fiery comments, it was the second article, on the many lies of the CRO community that really seems to have pissed people off. So much time was spent just reacting as if I was trying to flame the industry and so little time was spent actually discussing the merit of the points I raised that I wonder if this is because everyone agrees, or more likely that people seek out confirmation and not to actually grow their skills. I fully claim the writing on that one was far from my best and I will freely admit that I am super passionate about that topic (as anyone that reads these rants can attest), but I am severely disappointed in the lack of intellectual curiosity that is being shown by the audience as a whole.

No point has been beaten up more then my comment about my testing streak, which currently sits at 6 failed tests in over 5 years. People latched onto that and thought I was full of it without noticing that it was just a bullet point in a much larger topic of being ok with failed tests or accepting inefficiency in their program. Pretty much universally people dismiss my claim about the streak (despite the fact that it is 100% true) which is why I don’t actually bring it up that often, and while I do accept that on its face it is a teapot argument, the rational thing to do would be to ask if I am claiming dramatically different results then what people are getting, if I am doing things radically different then what they are doing. Instead of allowing for myopia people should be evaluating claims to see if they are the same old tired crap or if they are actually different, and then fulfilling scientific discipline by performing based on the stated criteria and seeing if they get the results that I claim.

I am not saying I am not a crackpot, I am just saying that you should see if the crazy is valuable before throwing your rotten fruit at me.

I think this also highlights one of the most disappointingly predictable parts of the industry, as people seek out echo chambers to feel better about what they are doing. Testing is the ultimate expression in dealing with uncertainty and more then anything it is about optimizing people, not websites. Because of this it can be isolating, scary, threatened and generally misunderstood, so of course people seek out comfort in their peers. It requires far more effort to look beyond what you agree with to see if there is something new out there. I still read the crap that Tim Ashe puts out, and I will read mindless marketing blogs and articles because I have to challenge the things I think I know. Isn’t that the heart of optimization anyways?

Challenge your own assumptions, not just other people’s.

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