February 21, 2022

Chesterton’s Fence

Just because you don’t understand why something is the way it is doesn’t mean there isn’t a good reason for it. Don’t discard part of a system before you understand why it was there in the first place. Sometimes it will turn out the reason is no longer relevant and it’s safe to discard it. Other times it may be doing a subtle but vital job.

G.K. Chesterton gave the example of a fence in the middle of nowhere. A traveller comes across it, thinks I can’t think of any reason to have a fence out here, it sure was dumb to build one” and so takes it down. She is then gored by an angry bull who was being kept on the other side of the fence.

Source: https://slatestarcodex.com/2013/02/12/youre-probably-wondering-why-ive-called-you-here-today/