CIO Falls Flat On His Face : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

The Crisis That Won't Be -- Fixing the inevitable Y2K glitches rapidly will be the key to surviving the new millennium Herbert W. Lovelace

I have come to the conclusion that because of the massive remediation under way, we'll wake up on Jan. 1, 2000, and give a big yawn-not just because of staying out too late while celebrating the big triple zero, but also because the crisis-to-be has turned out to be the crisis-that-wasn't.


I have already posted this article in total with comments, but I wanted to come back and address it more closely. This is A PRIME example of an invalid argument.

It is the MAIN point of his entire article as you can see from the title and his conclusion just above.

Now any valid argument must have at least two true premises and a conclusion that follows LOGICALLY from those premises.

So what is his first premise.

The first premise is that a "massive remediation is underway"

Then he states his conclusion that the result will be a big yawn. In other words, The result of Y2k will be negligible.

Wait. There is a problem here. there is only one premise. where is the necessary minimum of a second one. that was the trick. You see the second premise was 'unstated'. It is called an 'implied' premise. The reader, after hearing one premise and the conclusion goes back and fills it in for himself. It is usually something that is taken utterly for granted. But for here, we need to have it stated in order to subject it to a formal proof to see if his argument rally is valid, or if he has slipped a fast one in here. You see when the premise is implied, you hear the first 'stated' premise and then the conclusion and you never really ask yourself if the conclusion follows from the implied premise because it was out of order and you went back and filled it in yourself without actually then returning to see if the conclusion DID follow.

So lets see what the implied premise REALLY is.

Premise one: There is a massive remediation gong one

Premise two:.......................................

Conclusion: The result will be speed bump or yawner at best.

Now what has to go in there?

The implied premise is that this massive remediation is sufficient.

Put them together and see if it is a valid argument: two true premises and a conclusion that necessarily follows from them.

1: A massive remediation is underway 2: A massive remediation is sufficient for success

Conclusion: The result will be speed bump or yawner at best.

Well there are a great number of logical problems with this. First of all, he has begged the question. He says that a massive remediation is 'sufficient for success. I will come back to this. His first premise merely says that a masive remediation is 'underway' The implication that an underway remediation will get to its destination. This is false. The titanic got underay and did not reach it's destination. i have broken down in my car and not reached my destination on time. And all of tens of thousands of hours of IT metrics say that of all major projects of this scope and magnitude only less than 14% of all such projects getting underway actually reach their decstination ON TIME. Furthermore, the metrics also say that on average, they are 18 to 24 months late. Begging the question by implying that because it is underway it will reach the desired goal is a fallacy and the argument is utterly invalid on that score alone. But there is more.

The first premise implies also that the massive remediation is massive 'enough'. yet there is ZERO support for that and no evidence at all beyonda mere assertion.

A MASIVE remediation should not be measured merely by buckets full of money. A bucket full of money is massive in relation to the price of a candy bar. but that is not the issue. Massiveness needs to be measure against WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE and How far along they are to ACTUALLY GETTING IT DONE.

If you look at the SEC filings you readily see that the work to date has been utterly insufficient. If you look at the global progress it has been utterly insufficent. The record makes plain that the budgets are skyrocketing and that nor anywhere near a high enough percentage of remediation as compared to budget spent has been done. robin Guinier of Action 2000 has Just accused prime Minister Tony Blairs's government of INTENTIONALLY misleading the public on the issue of how much work has been done. Another article cam eout today mentioning the critical state of unpreparednes of Indian banking INCLUDING the Bank of India. Japan and Germany are 18 to 24 months behind the US. Russia has no Y2K budget at all. The bidgest Oil concern in China that handles FIFTY percent of the busines has just represented that it will have catastrophic problems. not ONE Opec natuion will be ready. The second largest telephone company in Australia has spent only ten percent of its proposed budget. I can go on and on for a litany of ten hours length. The point is that no where NEAR a sufficient remdiation is taking place. So the first premise is false, AGAIN twice invalidating his argument on the basis of the first premise alone.

Now the second premise.

He has as an implied premise that a massive remediation is sufficient for success. Yes, The Titanic was sufficient in itself to cross the Atlantic. And my car is sufficient to drive to work. But that was not and is not enough.

He has only ASSERTED it is sufficient. He has not backed that premise up. Remember , it also has to be a TRUE premise. The first premise is false. The remediation is NOT massive as measured by budgets spent, code remediated and tested and time remaining to do what is left.

On the other hand there is an unspoken issue here in regards to the 'sufficiency' of a companies INTERNAL remdiation. A companies remediation of it's own systems is utterly moot. If it does not have electricity. No matter. or water, or sewerage, or its vendors, or its customers. or spare parts and materials, or telecomunications or its banking.

He ignores this.

And so the implied premise just goes by the wayside, because you can not say that an internal massive remediation is 'sufficient' and ignore the external factors. If the remediation plainly is not 'massive' enough there is no sufficiency at all. His second and implied premise of the sufficiency of the remedaition is also FALSE.

His argument is invalid and as bogus as a three dollar bill and not one in a million would recognize that.

They just skim right over what he has said and accept it because it is what they want to hear.

And this guy is actually the CIO of a large corporation and he can not even fashion a valid syllogism for his main argument. Paul Milne If you live within five miles of a 7-11, you're toast.

-- Paul Milne (, January 31, 1999


Brillant. Paul Milne is the voice of reason.

-- bardou (, January 31, 1999.

thank you, sir. Realizing it doesn't amount to a hill of cilantro, I much prefer this version of you, as you DO teach things in this incarnation. Excellent example of correct way to evaluate an argument/position.


-- Chuck, night driver (, January 31, 1999.


I usually don't respond to your posts, though I do read them all with interest. I agree with Chuck. This was a brilliant, insightful, well- written argument (OK, a few misspellings, but that's picky). Not once was the word "butthead" used (or any other profanity, for that matter).

More posts of this type will encourage people to see the light, not just feel the heat. Kudos and keep it up.

-- Steve Hartsman (, February 01, 1999.

In the beginning was the Plan. > >And with it came assumptions >And the assumptions were without form >And the Plan was without substance >And darkness was upon the face of the Workers >And they spoke among themselves, saying, >"It is a crock of shit, and it stinketh." >And the Workers went unto their Supervisors saying, >"It is a pail of dung, and none may abide by the odor thereof." >And the Supervisors went unto their Managers, saying, >"It is a container of excrement, and it is very strong, such that none may abide by it." >And the Managers went unto their Directors saying, >"It is a vessel of fertilizer, and none may deny its strength." >And the Directors spoke amongst themselves, saying to one another, >"It contains that which aids plant growth, and it is very strong." >And the Directors then went unto the Vice Presidents, saying unto them, >"It promotes growth, and is very powerful." >And the Vice Presidents went unto the President, saying unto him, >"This new Plan will actively promote the growth and vigor of the Company with powerful effects." >And the President looked upon the Plan, and saw that it was good. >And the Plan became Policy, and the Policy became fact >Therefore not subject to question or truth >And thus it was heralded, "Do not fear, all is good for in it we are well pleased."

-- Derek Scoble (Derek@Scoble.Com), February 01, 1999.

Paul, you stated that less than 14% of IT projects of this magnitude finish on time. I'm sure you would agree that there has never been an IT project anywhere near "this" magnitude in the history of IT.

-- Puddintame (, February 01, 1999.

As aforesaid, excellent critique. A useful template for analyses of other public statements. Of which I expect to see many more in coming months.

What a relief to read a post that isn't smoldering around the edges!

-- Tom Carey (, February 01, 1999.

Can somebody........lend me a few IQ points.... when I filed Intellectual Chapter 13, I had to cough up 40 points, taking me down to 100, and now I can't comprehend what this man is trying get across to me.

-- Lisa (, February 01, 1999.

Lisa, read it again and again until you get it, I'm sure it will eventually sink in.

-- bardou (, February 01, 1999.

Paul Milne: Thank you for a calm and clear argument. The only question I have is, given the responses you have had to endure, how and why do you still care and continue to post? I have recently turned down two hopeless contracts.

-- curtis schalek (, February 01, 1999.

The original story can be found here:

-- Flint (, February 01, 1999.

Bravo, Paul, Bravo!

I just applied what I learned from Paul to my own conlclusions and found I that I have been personally making a similar mistake in my reasoning. Here was my logic:

Premise one: I am way ahead of most people in my y2k preparations. Premise two (implied): Preparing much more than others is sufficient.

Faulty Conclusion: I will make it through y2k just fine.

Thanks Paul, I am now going to apply this kind of review to many of my conclusions and change my plans accordingly.

-- Tomcat (, February 01, 1999.


1. IMO, "preparing much more than others" means you are going to have guests, so you still aren't as prepared as you thought you were...

2. I thinkg set a goal of about 3 months, and I think I am about there, except that I don't know how many 2-legs and 4-legs I'll be helping out. It doesn't equate to what I am expecting - I think things could very well be a whole lot worse. What gives me some relief is that there are 10 more months (I am discounting December - I have no intention of being anywhere near a store in December) during which I am just bound to keep stocking up and adjusting, even if at a less intense level than these past few months. So, in that sense I am farther along than folks who might decide next fall to stock up for 3 months.

-- Brooks (, February 01, 1999.


This was a thoughtful, and well done post.

Thank you for cleaning up your vocabularly as well.

Preparing for the unexpected, is just prudent, though often overwhelming. Actions and reactions are rarely accurately predicted with any certainty.


-- Diane J. Squire (, February 01, 1999.

In answer to flint: Reading comprehension difficulties are at the heart of 99.9% of all of your dificulties. The URL is right there on the bottom of my original post. In plain sight. I did not see anyone else ask for it. They can read.

-- Paul Milne (, February 01, 1999.


Thank you.

This is without a doubt the best post of yours I have ever read,and I have read everything you have ever written(yes all 5000+ in the NG's)

I just wanted to take the time to thank you for all of your efforts in warning people of the comming problem.

May God be with you and yours.

Sean in Indy

-- (, February 01, 1999.

I am impressed and pleased with your fine analysis and response to some perhaps deliberately obfuscating propaganda. PLEASE CONTINUE TO CRITIQUE IN THIS SAME TONE AND MANNER. It is absolutely irrefutable and maddening to those who wish to perpetuate the public's blind and unfounded confidence and trust in a system which I believe is relatively imminently and disasterously crumbling.

-- Ann Fisher (, February 03, 1999.

Mr. Milne,

Okay, I was with you most of the way. I may not agree with all of your conclusions, but this was a fairly well constructed argument, with one exception.

You said "A MASIVE remediation should not be measured merely by buckets full of money" but you then went on to describe some of the remediation being done (or not being done as the case may be) in terms of money. For example, you describe the Australian phone company's efforts only in terms of dollars spent. Clean that up and you might have something.

Next, you have to understand that people aren't going to report remediation efforts that have not passed testing as "complete." Furthermore, it is common for many companies to report expenditures only for completed work. (I didn't say it was right, I just said it was common.) Now, as experienced systems people know, most of these jobs are rushed and poorly planned (as are most systems jobs) and will therefore spend most of their time and dollars cleaning up problems in the testing phases, thus delaying reporting of completion. Lastly, the work being reported now as "complete" was probably the easier (read: cheaper) stuff to fix. the hard stuff comes later. Put all of these together, and you see that I agree with you that "budget dollars spent" is a lousy way to measure remediation progress, although I bet we differ on why it's a bad measure. Anyway, as these systems stagger out of testing and into production, expect to see a sharp increase in the percentages of budget dollars used, especially during the last quarter of the year.

Finally, despite your refusal to answer my thirteen requests for the information, I believe I have found you stating why you are so sure that "millions will die" and the current American way of life is, as you say, "toast." You said:

"On the other hand there is an unspoken issue here in regards to the 'sufficiency' of a companies INTERNAL remdiation. A companies remediation of it's own systems is utterly moot. If it does not have electricity. No matter. or water, or sewerage, or its vendors, or its customers. or spare parts and materials, or telecomunications or its banking."

You seem to be operating on the implied premise that the infrasturctures of modern society will break down, no question about it. No electricity, water, sewage, telecommunications, etc. If you were not assuming that, then the conclusion of a company's remediation of its internal systems being moot is clearly false. If life goes on around a company, then its own remediation efforts would make a huge difference in its chances of survival. The only way for the point to be moot would be if the infrastructure were to be doomed no matter what is done during the next few months. So, are you in fact stating that the infrastructre is hopelessly doomed, and if so, why? (Count this as request fourteen.)

-- Paul Neuhardt (, February 04, 1999.

Paul N.-

Can you say "imbedded chip?"

-- INVAR (, February 04, 1999.

Gee Mr. Paul Milne------I'm impressed. You sounded like a real human in this post. Keep it up, you might get your following back.

-- thinkIcan (, February 04, 1999.

INVAR, can you say 1%?

-- HEY INVAR (.@...), February 04, 1999.

To 'I think I can'. I don't need no stinking following, nor vapid cheerleaders like you.

To the 'anus' neuhardt, I have not refused to answer you. I don't bother with trolls.

-- Paul Milne (, February 04, 1999.

First, he says he *hasn't* refused to reply. Then, he explains why he *has* refused to reply.

Mr. Logic himself.

-- Flint (, February 04, 1999.


'Can you say "imbedded chip?"'

Yep. I can even spell it correctly and use the correct term for the true source of problems: embedded system.

-- Paul Neuhardt (, February 04, 1999.

Mr. Milne, you said:

"To the 'anus' neuhardt, I have not refused to answer you. I don't bother with trolls."

So, let me see if I have this straight. You haven't refused to answer me, but you follow up this assertion with a statement on why you refuse to answer. Hmmm. Gee, that's not a logical argument the way I ever heard the term used. Such a shame to break your strek of logical, profanity-free posts at one. Better luck next time.

Personal sniping aside, if you can offer proof of your position, why don't you? You consistently chastise others for what you say is failure to support positions with evidence, yet you consistently commit the sin yourself. Is you entire contribution to this discourse to be a case of "Do as I say, not as I do?" If your conclusions are so obvious, pray enlighten the rest of us. You can do that, can't you? You didn't have the first post on this thread ghost written, did you? (I was suspicious when there were no curses or insults, but your later post re-assured me that you were still here after all.)

-- Paul Neuhardt (, February 04, 1999.

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