No true X for X in [Scotsman, Scrum, Free Market, Communist State]

Joe Gregorio

Via Bill:

Mark Levison: "I've started a page on the Scrum Alliance wiki to document Agile/Scrum Failures. The failures are not of the process itself but of the humans associated with the project."

I can see the point in the rest of Mark's post about tracking failures, but that statement comes dangerously close to the No true Scotsman Fallacy. This is a similar trap that the believers in the Free Market Fairy fall into when they claim that the reason that the Free Markey Fairy hasn't cured all of our woes is that we don't have a "true" free market. Not that they're unique, believers in communism say the same thing about failed communist states, that they weren't "true" communist states.

I'm not sure any of your examples are fallacious. Many failed communist states had very little in common with Marx's definition of communism, and most of our markets have got regulations (i.e. they aren't truly free).

If someone claims to be running an Agile project but isn't really doing whatever is supposed to make Agile Agile, it would be unfair to blame Agile methodology for the project's failure.

If your hypothetical believer were to say "that wasn't a True X, because True X's don't fail", I'd agree.

Posted by Brendan Taylor on 2008-07-11


Maybe you didn't read what that Mike wrote?

Its not that I think that an Agile or Scrum project can fail - but the people can fail to execute the methodologies well.

Posted by Joe Gregorio on 2008-07-11

I missed that bit. Yeah, that's a rather silly thing for him to say.

Posted by Brendan Taylor on 2008-07-12

Yeah. While there are a lot of sensible things in agile, the fervour of the converted makes me distinctly uncomfortable.

Posted by Mark Nottingham on 2008-07-13

Steven Levitt seems to think that illegal markets (in particular the market for drug-related gang labor) are extremely close to what you would call a true "free market".

Posted by nordsieck on 2008-07-15

comments powered by Disqus