How to avoid Conjecture & Supposition in problem solving

Conjecture and supposition based on imagination and often provide false insight into a problem.
There was a time early in my career as a designer specialising in new materials and processes, one of them being sound absorption and attenuation.

I was asked to investigate a situation where a woman was complaining of hearing a high pitched noise, in and about her home.
She believed was coming from the adjacent industrial area, and was causing her untold grief particularly when attempting to nap during the day, or sleep in the evening.

The Adelaide University researched the problem with their sophisticated noise detection equipment, the EPA investigated, local council got involved and all found nothing.
The woman presumed that she would benefit by sound proofing her room and called me to that end.

After a couple of interviews with the distraught woman where she was beginning to believe that she was being fobbed off by all attempting to locate the source….

I assured her that there was no doubt in my mind that she was hearing as she claimed and asked if would she indulge me by visiting her dentist and asking him to check the alignment of her teeth.


It seemed that because she had a molar removed some six months prior her her jaw began to misalign and was grinding her teeth.
This caused uneven pressure in her jaw which impacted on the nerves connected to the aural canal.

The noise she was hearing was a consequence of the misalignment.
The teeth were corrected, the jaw realigned and the distressing sound gone.
Too often we are presented with a set of circumstances that on the surface seem to be irrational.
Then we look for the misrepresentation to justify our walking away from the problem at hand.

What led me to think in this direction was that her problem was most distressing in the afternoon and evening….after having lunch and dinner.

I make mention of this experience so as to amplify that awareness of all may not be forthcoming to a problem very real.
Conjecture and supposition is to be applied like salt….very sparingly.
Very often the answer may be elsewhere, out of the box, as it were.

An accurate assessment of any problem is always essential to determining the correct solution.
Omit one little detail in the assessment and the solution will elude you.

Condor Kinetic

Similar Posts