# The Algorithm of Doubting

### Y. B. Karasik, Thoughts Guiding Systems Corp., Ottawa, Canada. e-mail:karasik@sympatico.ca

The ancients said: "Doubt everything". It might appear that this is a good method of creativity, especially in sciences. And indeed, there are many stories of how something was discovered because somebody doubted something. Unfortunately, doubting everything is like searching for a needle in the stack of hay. Most doubts are fruitless and lead nowhere as what is being doubted is often turns out to be true. Doubting everything without a direction is a blind doubting by trials and errors. How to find a thing which is worth doubting ? How to develop an algorithm of doubting ?

To this end a database of instances of productive doubting has to be put in place, as is customary in TRIZ. I started this work a while ago and by now was able to formulate the first algorithm of doubting based on the analysis of examples accumulated. In this article I will present its first steps.

The presentation is based on the analysis of the process of doubting of an explanation by Chubais of why USSR collapsed. Here is his explanation [1]:

• "Well, in a fundamental sense of the word - it collapsed because it has exhausted its life span. And in the applied sense of the word the most succinct history of the demise of USSR, in the words of Yegor Gaidar, is a graph of falling oil prices from 1983 to 1989. Here you have a country of 250 million people, which is not capable of producing competitive products and with a non-convertible currency. You need to feed its population, but the country's agriculture is falling apart. It is not because of the poor agricultural land, but because the kulaks were exterminated 70 years ago. And you cannot fix it, this agriculture, because it will basically never work under the Soviet rule. But somehow you have to feed the people. What do you do ? You sell oil and gas and buy grain. The import of grain in the country reached 25 million tons a year. Now Russia exports 20 million tons, whereas the USSR was importing 25 million tons. Then the price of oil drops. You have no money to buy food. I remind that rouble was non-convertible! What does the Soviet government do then beginning 1985 ? It starts borrowing from the commercial banks. They were glad to loan. The Soviet Union was a reliable borrower. But by 1988 it already could not repay the loans. The credit rating of the USSR faltered. Then the Soviet government makes the next step, taking loans not from commercial banks but from the governments of foreign states. But as soon as you took a loan from a foreign government you become politically dependent. And then, you know, in Poland, martial law should be introduced, because, you know, the "Solidarity" is going out of hand. But you are politically dependent. And Germany, as a creditor, does not like tanks in Poland. Make a choice: either feed your population or send tanks to Poland, as was done with Czechoslovakia in 1968. Charity begins at home and tanks into Poland were not sent. And all hell broke loose. The GDR fell off, Poland fell off, socialist countries flew into different directions, the Warsaw Pact fell apart - and then it is already irreversible. And the trigger was the fall in oil prices."

What would one doubt here ? An inexperienced reader would rush to check the facts. Was the price of oil really falling in the 1980s ? Whether the Soviet Union imported 25 million tons of grain a year, and Russia exports it ? Etc. But the facts are correct and their doubting are trials that turn out to be errors.

A more thoughtful reader would have noticed that in Chubais' explanation there are premises and conclusions. Figures of import/export of grain are premises. And what are the conclusions? There are two of them, one stated and one implied. The stated conclusion is that the USSR had a not working agriculture. And a not stated but implied conclusion is that today's Russia has a working agriculture. Is this true?

Unfortunately, if the reader would like to verify whether the fact that the Soviet Union imported grain implies that its agriculture was not working, and the fact that today's Russia exports grain implies that its agriculture is working, he would not be able to do so. It is because one first needs to define what is a working agriculture and what is not.

Suppose we define a working agriculture as one that produces enough grain to feed its own population. Then verification of Chubais' conclusions becomes possible. To this end we need to know the amount of grain produced in the USSR and modern Russia per capita. It's a no brainer. The Soviet Union with a population of 250 million produced about 200 million tons of grain a year [2], and the modern Russia with a population of 143 million [3] produced just 92 million tons in 2011, and in 2010 even less - 60 million tons [4]. Grain production in the Soviet Union per capita was definitely higher than in the modern Russia. Why did the USSR could not feed its population then and the modern Russia can ?

It is a good question for researchers. Apparently the Soviet Union had to feed not only its own population but the population of many satellite countries. USSR could likely feed its people, but instead fed a large amount of allies. This is what the foreign credits were used for: on buying allies.

Thus, we now in the position to formulate the following first steps of the Algorithm of Doubting:

• Step 1. Divide the theory in question into the premises and conclusions.
• Step 2. Verify the premises.
• Step 3. If they are correct, check to see if it is in principle verifiable that premises entail conclusions.
• Step 4. If it is in principle not verifiable that premises entail conclusions due to the lack of some definitions, define them.
• Step 5. Check to see that the premises imply the conclusions.

Please note that these are just the first elementary steps of a pretty large and complex algorithm. Its full description is beyond the scope of this paper.

Consider now the rest of Chubais' theory. It consists of a series of premises and conclusions:

• the Soviet Union collapsed because the Warsaw Pact collapsed;
• the Warsaw Pact collapsed because the Soviet block disintegrated;
• the Soviet block disintegrated because tanks were not sent to Poland;
• Tanks were not sent to Poland because Germany threatened to cut off money supply to the cash and food starved USSR needed to buy food for its population.
Both the premises and conclusions do not hold water:
• The Soviet Union existed without the Warsaw Pact from 1921 to 1956 and did not collapse. The Warsaw Pact was apparently not a necessary condition for the existense of the USSR. The conclusion clearly does not follow from the premise.
• There was no need to enter tanks into Poland as tanks of General Jaruzelski did a better job. Soviet tanks in Poland would achieve nothing but could spark hostilities with the Polish population. Soviet army managed to put down the Prague Spring in 1968 only because neither Czechs nor Slovaks had a historical animosity towards Russia till then. Poles, on the contrary, fought Russia for centuries. This kept Russian tanks out of Poland better than the alleged German threats to cut off money supply.

And now here is my theory of why the USSR collapsed. It is a counter-marxist. The marxist point of view is that social upheavals/revolutions happen when the upper classes are unable to rule in the old way and the lower classes do not want to live in the old way. In the case of USSR it was the other way around. Its leaders did not want to rule in the old way and its people under these circumstances were unable to live in the old way.

Thus, the Algorithm of Doubting led us to a new theory of revolutionary situations. But this is already the topic of my next article.

## References:

1. http://strana.lenta.ru/russia/chubais.htm
2. Felix N. Kogan, "Grain production in USSR", United States Department of Agriculture, 1981
3. Russian 2010 Census Data