“Validate: to establish the soundness of; corroborate” (American Heritage Dictionary).
THE MORE IMPORTANT A THING IS, THE MORE IT NEEDS TO BE VALIDATED. Consider a few examples.
(1) Ideas need to be analyzed to establish their soundness.
(2) Information needs to be verified to guarantee its accuracy.
(3) Arguments need to be tested to see if their conclusions are valid.
(4) Goals need to be evaluated to confirm their appropriateness.
All of these are illustrations of the need for validation. And, as I said, the more important a thing is (that is, the bigger its consequences), the more validation is a matter of due diligence.
You won’t get good results in any validation, however, if you don’t use good criteria. Validation means measuring against a standard, and no matter how carefully we measure, the results will be worthless if the standard is not right. For example, if you tell me something and I need to validate the truthfulness of what you say, my personal likes and dislikes are probably not the best means of verifying the accuracy of your testimony. I may hope you are telling the truth, but either way, my preferences are not an adequate criterion by which to judge.
Since there are many things in life we need to be sure about, we engage in validation almost daily. We may not call it that; in fact, we may not even realize what we’re doing, but frequently we find ourselves having to check things out. Or at least we should be doing that. The problem is, we often don’t take the time to double-check the facts, even in matters of great consequence. We accept hearsay evidence without verifying it. We act on impulse without stopping to think. We sign contracts without knowing what we’re agreeing to. In all too many ways we fail to establish the soundness of our ideas and our actions. And later on, huge regrets come crashing into us when we see that we acted on the basis of ideas that should have been rejected.
One thing is certain: if a thing is factual, it can stand the process of validation. We should never be afraid to bring any idea out into the sunlight. If it is valid, the light will demonstrate that, and if not, the sooner we find out, the better. Ultimately, of course, time will tell. Truth will be left standing when all of its competitors have vanished.
“Truth fears no trial” (Thomas Fuller).