Organoleptic testing is a scientifically-valid analytical testing protocol that is amazingly quick, easy and economical. Put simply, you use your senses of touch, sight, taste or smell to inspect a substance for properties such as dryness or freshness. Organoleptic testing is very common; If a jar of canned peaches is bubbly and smells bad, you wrinkle up your nose and throw it out. It doesn’t pass your “smell test.”
The “Cringe Test” is a simple and immediate way to test your individual and cultural values. If somebody says something, does it sit in your mind comfortably or do you experience a degree of cognitive dissonance? Do you feel some degree of discomfort in your gut, fear, or anger? The Cringe Test may tell you that your ideas are different from those of another person. It may even reveal that you hold, in your own mind, mutually-incompatible opinions.
Our minds are pattern-matching devices. We interpret input from our senses according to what we have experienced in the past and, therefore, what we now expect in the present. People who do not have a word for a color are often unable to distinguish that hue. People with limited vocabularies are at a disadvantage to make subtle distinctions of nuance in complex thoughts. We are predisposed to hear, recognize, and agree with that with which we are already familiar.
Our preconceived notions make all of us easily prejudiced. The cure for this subtle bigotry is openness to newness and change, exposure to diverse experience and opinion, a predisposition to consider alternatives, and increased maturity in general.
Both external and internal differences of opinion are common. I used to joke that it was OK to talk to yourself and it was even to OK to argue with yourself but, if you start to lose those arguments, look out.
The fact of the matter is that we should pay attention to those little cringes when ideas just don’t smell right. They often represent opportunities to learn something new and useful. They often represent opportunities to straighten out kinks in thinking — to begin thinking about a situation more fully or with greater understanding.
This is an excerpt from “Family and Community Values in American Culture: Forming a More Perfect Union” to be published in 2014 by David Satterlee. Excerpts from other books of essays and short stories by this author are available at http://DavidSatterlee.com