Doubting Everything

GitHub’s website has been updated, and I don’t like the way it looks.

I mean, it is quite liveable, actually. Things being out of their usual places are quite disturbing, but of course I will get used to the new placing of elements. Some things in the new design are nice: I really like the repository stats in the sidebar, for example.

But the repository heading spread all over the screen width makes my teeth hurt:

May 2020
June 2020

Actually, the heading is not a huge issue, but the tabs that rolled over to the far left are a horror, a nightmare, and a blasphemy towards common sense!

Or am I wrong? I’m not a designer after all; I could dislike it just because I’m not used to it yet. Maybe this way it’s actually better, more comfortable and produces less eye strain and mental fatigue in the long run, which has been calculated long ago and described in detail in every book on UI design… It’s Microsoft, right? They certainly didn’t have an intern re-design the site; they hired professionals that wouldn’t replace the good design with bad design just for the sake of it!

Or would they? Twitter’s new website wasn’t designed by an intern either, was it…?

Lately, I started doubting my own conclusions a lot, and this goes far beyond GitHub’s new website design. These doubts are added to by the fact that I actively resist developing a filter bubble and read and listen to a lot of people with opinions differing from mine (sometimes to the extreme). Those are smart people (there’s no reason to listen to dumb people anyway), their arguments are good, their logic is in order, so as I follow the reasoning chain to the point where we diverge I can either identify the error in my own reasoning (and fix it for the future) or make sure that in this particular matter both opinions are valid and none of them can be deemed truly right.

Differing opinions are not always the sign of one person being right and another one being wrong. People’s tastes differ, people’s goals differ, people’s desires differ — people differ, too, there’s nothing wrong with it, is there?!

The trouble is, there’s the third category of disagreements: the matters where one true answer most likely exists, but it’s too long, too expensive or otherwise impossible to verify which one that is. Yet knowing the right answer is still very much desirable, since it can influence the future a lot. Which school to send your child to? Which of the candidates to vote for? Should manned or unmanned space exploration be funded?

A lot of people give answers to such questions based on faith rather than reason. Even the people that are very smart can have a limit beyond which they stop looking for reasons and take one of the options for granted. What is fair, equal opportunity or equal outcome? Beyond which point the harm caused by words ceases to be objective? Many very smart people base the answers to these questions upon “this is so because it is certainly so”, or think these are the questions of taste where one can agree to disagree.

But a smart person doesn’t choose what to trust in based on nothing, even though the choice may not be conscious. And seeing a great number of very smart people believe something is right when that something contradicts my position on the matter (while my argumentation is not flawless) causes me to doubt my own opinion more and more. To tell the truth, these constant doubts about my own opinions are rather exhausting.

Though I would never trade them for the blind confidence in the correctness of my erroneous judgements.


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