Timeless Things That Aren’t Really Timeless


It’s not just me who appreciates when “timeless things” are not as old as we think.  Did you know that the pro/con list is less than 250 years old?  That we know who invented it?  That it was none other than polymath and U.S. founding father Benjamin Franklin?

Beyond learning these bits of trivia, and beyond the lovely feeling of confirmation bias when others point out when we take the origin of ideas for granted, my favorite part of this video is the description Benjamin Franklin used to describe his invention.

Note that we know of this description from a letter he wrote.  He used 144 words to describe how it works:

“My way is to divide half a sheet of paper by a line into two columns; writing over the one Pro and over the other Con. Then during three or four days’ consideration, I put down under the different heads short hints of the different motives, that at different time occur to me, for or against the measure. When I have thus got them altogether in one view, I endeavor to estimate their respective weights; and where I find two, one on each side, that seem equal, I strike them both out. If I judge some two reasons con equal to some three reasons pro, I strike out five; and thus proceeding, I find where the balance lies; and if after a day or two of further consideration, nothing new that is of importance occurs on either side, I come to a determination accordingly.” –Benjamin Franklin

Did it not cross his mind to draw a sample pro/con list and half as many words?  Are diagrams in letters an idea newer than Franklin’s era?

By "Luni"


HardcoverThe Next StepThe Next StepThe Next StepThe Next Step The Next StepThe Next StepThe Next Step



Recent blog posts