To be able to evaluate anything you need at least two data. The basic act of evaluating is to compare two things or two data of similar nature.
Example: People, who are to determine the dollar value of an antique lamp, for instance, will compare the lamp they are asked to evaluate with other antique lamps of similar history, quality and condition. They will find recently sold items in order to be able to evaluate the market value of the present lamp.
Example: You compare cans of beans of different make in the
supermarket in order to find the best deal. Shopping is an intense experience
in terms of evaluating.
If you want to find out if something is true or not you will compare the datum with other data. You will look it up in books, ask informed people, compare it with your experience, or try to find out by making new observations. You can make an experiment and try to predict things based on the datum you are evaluating. Doing any of this is to evaluate the datum in question.
An important part of study is to be able to evaluate the data studied. When you study something for application you have to be able to think with the data you learn. You have to be able to determine how relevant the data you are presented with are to what you want to accomplish with your study.
Study of any subject should start with answering some hard questions for yourself. Once you have those answered you have a basis upon which you can evaluate or sort out the data you are presented with. The very first question in study for application seems always to be: "What is the purpose of this?"
Example: When you start on a drive, you have an idea of the destination. You probably have a picture made up of the place you are going to arrive at; the people you are going to meet; the things you are going to see, buy, or pick up.
How Does This Apply?
If you were trying to find out about herbs and plants that could be used for medical purposes reading botany would be very frustrating. It has some relevance, but the idea of applying botany to anything seems a stranger to the subject itself.
The same can be the case with mathematical theory. Students are often taught a lot of abstract formulas, equations, and lines of reasoning, but it is all too often left mid-air. The trouble with mathematical theory is also explained with the "Lack of Mass" phenomena. But the lack of mass is here better described as lack of practical use or lack of relevance to anything the student does or knows.
"Pure Mathematics" seems to some a subject of abstract beauty. To most it seems troublesome unless it is related to the resolution of some kind of practical problem.
Its Relative Importance
The most important data would be natural law. If you want to build bridges you better know something about gravity for instance. You actually need to study gravity long and hard in order to be able to build a structure that will remain standing for many years.
You will also have to know something about rust protection, such as paint, galvanizing, or plastic coating. This is somewhat important as it will determine how long a steel bridge will last. But this can better be left to others as the wrong paint will not cause the bridge to collapse. What color of paint to choose would be of little importance from an engineer's viewpoint. It is not a life or death decision as it does not effect the bridge's strength nor its life-span. What make of trucks is going to use the bridge would be of no importance whatsoever to you as an engineer. You simply have to know how heavy they were and approximately how many were going to cross the bridge at the same time and on a daily basis.
Let's say it was a major city that had commissioned you to build that bridge. Anything you wanted to do would have to be approved by the city council. There could be all kinds of political interests at work. Some council members may want to prevent the whole project from being done. They may feed all kinds of false or destructive data into the process. They may try to start a strike, come with alternative but unworkable solutions to that bridge, and so on. Their data could very well be twisted, false, or outright destructive.
When we talk Relative Importance in studying a subject it is something you should evaluate all the time. A simple system to use is to have a pencil and underscore the important parts. By sitting there with your pencil ready to underscore any sentences that express the basic principles you keep yourself on the lookout for relative importances. A somewhat better system is to use demos of the most important principles expressed in the text. There are other systems for evaluating data as you go along. Any such sensible system is useful as it keeps you active. Evaluating the data constantly as you go along is really what is doing the trick.
When studying a subject we can divide it into elements of varying importance like this:
Basic Principles: The invariable natural laws
and axioms of a subject. These must be known
and fully understood.
There is a drastic difference in importance between basic principles and opinions about unrelated subjects. They may be in the same print in the text and not be given different emphasis. It is often up to the student to sort this out.
Out-points and Plus-points
R. Hubbard developed a system for evaluating data. He wrote a series of essays, called the Data Series Policies, about it. The first essays were published in 1970; the rest in the following years. This system is very applicable to study. It can be used to evaluate a text being studied as you go along. It can also be used when you choose what textbooks to study - that is if you have a choice. For the Clearbird publications this system, and the Study Technology in general, has played an important role in how we have written and edited our manuals.
When using the system you evaluate the usefulness of the data studied. You evaluate their relative truth and their relative importance and so on. It is all evaluated against the purpose you want to follow or the goal you want to achieve.
When R. Hubbard developed and formulated the Study Technology - this was largely done in 1964 - these ideas seem to be present all over the place. But since the terminology and classifications weren't fully developed until the 1970s they weren't clearly communicated at the time. In hindsight you can find this system used in most parts of his technical writings. He wrote a set of 'Logics' in 1951. These could be said to be the axioms of learning and rational thought. The Logics contain this famous quote: "A datum is as valuable as it has been evaluated"; the more you examine a datum the better you will know to use it in practice. We have included an illustrated essay on the Logics. It is the next chapter in the manual.
The Data Series mainly apply to running large organizations, intelligence operations, and doing troubleshooting for top-management. Much of it is in difficult language and we won't go into it in great detail as the series are not primarily intended for students learning to study. Let us just conclude that the basic principles of reasoning were behind the development of R. Hubbard's clearing technology as well as the Study Technology. Using the the key terms from the later developed terminology thus make a lot of sense and help clarify the subject of study when it comes to evaluation of data.
We will only use three main terms here: Ideal Scene, Out-points and Plus-points.
Out-point: An out-point is something that is wrong with an ideal scene. It's a datum that doesn't add up right. An out-point doesn't mean that the data presented are false, but the outnesses have to be taken into consideration. They subtract from the Ideal Scene as they don't align with the purpose or goal pursued.
Plus-point: Plus-points are indicators of something right. It's an element of the Ideal Scene. It's data that are in good order; they show something that is right. They are part of or help to obtain the Ideal Scene as they align with the purpose or goal pursued.
Example: The ideal scene for an old car in bad repair, you could decide, would be the same old car; but everything fixed very well so it now was running like a clock and purring like a cat. Per definition you could of course improve upon that, such as getting a brand new luxury car.
Example: The existing scene for a store could be: it was currently failing,
had few customers, and was loosing money; it didn't open on time, the stock was out of date, and the interior and exterior in poor condition. Such a state of
affairs could be analyzed for outpoints to determine where to begin and what to
The system can easily be applied to textbooks and education.
Example: Let's say we have a Do-it-yourself textbook in how to build a house. It is written for men with solid handyman experience but a non-professional background.
The ideal scene for such a book would be: there are photos and drawings of all the important steps and actions. It shows step-by-step show how to build the house. The book wouldn't get into a lot of specialized language unless it had to; and it would explain any difficult words used. Also, the choice of house to build is important. It had to be something a do-it-yourself'er could build with normal tools and good basic skills. Each element used in the construction shouldn't be bigger and heavier than the builder and a couple of his friends could lift and handle it. Suddenly to introduce construction cranes, descriptions of how to produce glass for windows, and so on would be completely off-limits. The step-by-step practical instructions of what to buy and how to put it together, what tools to use, and how much money it all would cost is what the builder wants to know. The purpose of it all would be to end up with a good and functional house at an affordable price.
The textbook would at its front
cover have a picture of the finished house. Maybe with a proud do-it-yourself'er
pointing at it and say, "I built that house myself in 6 months!" The
picture of the finished house would give the ideal scene at one glance. The book would show them step-by-step how to get
The out-points are:
Let's take a look at each of them with examples:
Omitted Datum or Thing
In the how-to book: how to make the roof is chapter one. Then how to build the walls, etc. are explained in chapter five. Obviously this is wrong sequence for building a house and is confusing to the reader.
Sending out invitations for a meeting but not state when it is taking place is another example of "dropped time".
Medicine: epidemic illnesses, such as the 'Black Death', were blamed on witches and their connection to the Devil; sometimes as God's punishment. Not until bacteria and the importance of hygiene was discovered could anything effective be done. Blaming it on witches was a falsehood (and wrong source - see below).
The how-to book: the author loves to show off as a professional, using very technical language, explaining other ways to accomplish each step. He becomes very scientific when it comes to describing building materials. Obviously it is not a 'how-to' book any more. The author is addressing the wrong audience. He is trying to convince his colleagues that his knowledge is extensive and scientifically founded. This is the wrong audience and the wrong target for a 'how-to' book.
Astrology: astrologists insist the stars determine ones fate. They overlook the fact that the persons' own actions and earthly things are what is important. The stars seem a wrong source for people's fate (this is of course hard to prove conclusively).
Education: a young man is studying to become an engineer. He gets flunked two
semesters in a row but decides to try once more at another college. Endless time is
added to his studies.
Added Inapplicable Data
Incorrectly Included Datum
As you can see from the above list of examples many of the situations could be classified under several headlines. Out-points are these odd facts and phenomena that stick out. It is what a good detective has developed a nose for. The clues he is looking for to solve the mystery. They tell the investigator that something is wrong and he better take a closer look. He uses the trail of out-points to find out what is really going on. It is a tool of any type of investigation.
In a workplace you could spot all these out-points in existence. Each out-point found could be assigned to who was responsible for it. If a great many out-points can be seen to be generated by one person this person is said to be the "Who" for the non-optimum situation. He needs to be educated in what to do or be fired and things will improve.
In choosing a textbook you can use the same system. If one textbook has many out-points you don't want to rely on it. You find another one or find additional information elsewhere so you get the right picture and achieve your Ideal Scene in education.
In other words plus-points are the opposite of out-points. They are used and classified in a similar manner as out-point; but here we are isolating the positive aspects of the situation, body of data, or activity.
The list of plus-points are:
(1) Related facts known (all relevant
facts in hand).
The last 3 listed do not have an exact counterpart in the out-points so we will briefly comment on these:
Intelligence and the ability to evaluate depend upon the ability to see identical objects or data as identical; similar objects or data as similar; and completely different objects and data as different. The ability to perceive and differentiate is what makes a person a good investigator and skilled evaluator of data.
Drills can be developed to train a student to evaluate data along these lines. The student can be made to analyze a text in writing or it can be done in a coaching session. One student reads a paragraph to his twin as in coaching theory. The coach asks if the section expresses a basic law, just an incidental fact, example, opinion or just a filler. Does it contain any of the out-points or plus-points? By analyzing pieces of text in great detail along the lines of this chapter the student's ability to evaluate a text is greatly heightened.
Finding misunderstood words is a valid method when it comes to ensuring a text is fully duplicated and not misunderstood in any way. It is however obvious that Word Clearing does not go into the quality of data communicated in a text. Therefore it has its limitations. Word Clearing is obviously only intended to repair a bad transmission of data, much as you adjust the antenna on a TV set until picture and sound come in loud and clear. What programming the TV station has chosen to bring is an entirely different story. In other words, the data themselves are not evaluated in Word Clearing, neither is the source-point (speaker or textbook writer). Therefore the evaluation of the data is the next and more important step. it's done once the sources of lack of duplication and misunderstandings are rooted out.
You study to find the truth in the area and to be able to apply what you learn. When you have rooted out all the sources of misunderstandings and have a clear transmission of data, the show can begin. You can start to evaluate the data. If you can evaluate the quality, relative importances, and applicability of the data you study, you stand a much better chance of succeeding.
Purpose and Evaluation
The short version of all this, the one datum you use to evaluate all the other types of data against, is thus: Purpose!