I've always thought Arthur Conan Doyle was wrong when he had Sherlock Holmes say, "Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth”.
I've always felt that this was rubbish. It makes the crazy assumption that you’re in possession of all the facts. If you know absolutely everything, then yes, it would be true. But you never do.
And then, of course, this leads us into all kinds of self-referential errors. Knowing that you don't know everything means that the statement itself is impossible so it must, itself, be eliminated. But let’s not get carried away…
Humanity’s crawled forward for all of history by trying to make sense of, and then improvements to, its surroundings. And this tendency is reflected in the way we judge others. We interpret their motives according to our own, personal, comprehension of the world.
If you’re still with me, you’ll have spotted the problem. In accounting for the actions of others, the only information we have is that which would have motivated our actions, not theirs. In essence, we can’t know the motivations of others, because that’s impossible. Unless we know everything they know. Unless we are them.
What’s this got to do with Westminster? People can be keen to ascribe rationales to the actions of politicians on all sides of any debate. But, unless we’re them, those interpretations are not – necessarily - going to be right.
Therefore, it’s discussion that will always be the way to learn from others and achieve progress. So I’m encouraging politicians to collaborate and talk more. It’s elementary, my dear Watson.