Friday, September 15, 2006

Editorial: Theories Predicts

A few weeks ago I discussed the problems of actual play examples as the validation of RPG theory. While I alluded to some alternatives I didn't go into significant detail. However, it is a subject which deserves more examination.

Theories are ways of organizing our knowledge of the world. They allow us to reduce experience, expectations, and practice into a succinct description. But more importantly theory tells us not only about what we've done, but also about what we might do or experience. In short, theories predict.

The validity of a theory, then is not whether it has been correctly constructed from observations and present knowledge, but whether it accurately predicts future knowledge. This is regardless of whether the knowledge is from experimental observation, from practical application, or from some other form of analysis.

This is both simple and important. If you are developing theory, then you must make predictions. These predictions will allow you to refine, and eventually to validate your theory. Otherwise you are simply summarizing your own experiences.

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