Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Accept Defeat; Neuroscience Of Screwing Up

We appear to have two parts of our brains which fight with each other for dominance when we experience something new. Part of our brain highlights whatever fits in with what we already know and part of our brain erases whatever doesn’t fit with what we already know. This article is based on studying how scientists work but it might also apply to people trying to learn how to do a new climbing route. Learning from our own observations is inherently hard.

“How to Learn From Failure

Too often, we assume that a failed experiment is a wasted effort. But not all anomalies are useless. Here’s how to make the most of them. —J.L.

1. Check Your Assumptions

Ask yourself why this result feels like a failure. What theory does it contradict? Maybe the hypothesis failed, not the experiment.

2. Seek Out the Ignorant

Talk to people who are unfamiliar with your experiment. Explaining your work in simple terms may help you see it in a new light.

3. Encourage Diversity

If everyone working on a problem speaks the same language, then everyone has the same set of assumptions.

4. Beware of Failure-Blindness

It’s normal to filter out information that contradicts our preconceptions. The only way to avoid that bias is to be aware of it.”

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