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Shamus vip

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2021.04.29 11:36

Excerpt from How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen

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Good theory can help us categorize, explain, and, most important, predict.

People often think that the best way to predict the future is by collecting as much data as possible before making a decision. But this is like driving a car looking only at the rearview mirror—because data is only available about the past.

Indeed, while experiences and information can be good teachers, there are many times in life where we simply cannot afford to learn on the job. You don’t want to have to go through multiple marriages to learn how to be a good spouse. Or wait until your last child has grown to master parenthood. This is why theory can be so valuable: it can explain what will happen, even before you experience it.

Consider, for example, the history of mankind’s attempts to fly. Early researchers observed strong correlations between being able to fly and having feathers and wings. Stories of men attempting to fly by strapping on wings date back hundreds of years. They were replicating what they believed allowed birds to soar: wings and feathers.
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Comments

  • Shamus 2021.04.29 11:36

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    Possessing these attributes had a high correlation—a connection between two things—with the ability to fly, but when humans attempted to follow what they believed were “best practices” of the most successful fliers by strapping on wings, then jumping off cathedrals and flapping hard … they failed. The mistake was that although feathers and wings were correlated with flying, the would-be aviators did not understand the fundamental causal mechanism—what actually causes something to happen—that enabled certain creatures to fly.
  • Shamus 2021.04.29 11:36

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    The real breakthrough in human flight didn’t come from crafting better wings or using more feathers. It was brought about by Dutch-Swiss mathematician Daniel Bernoulli and his book Hydrodynamica, a study of fluid mechanics. In 1738, he outlined what was to become known as Bernoulli’s principle, a theory that, when applied to flight, explained the concept of lift. We had gone from correlation (wings and feathers) to causality (lift). Modern flight can be traced directly back to the development and adoption of this theory. But even the breakthrough understanding of the cause of flight still wasn’t enough to make flight perfectly reliable.
  • Shamus 2021.04.29 11:36

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    When an airplane crashed, researchers then had to ask, “What was it about the circumstances of that particular attempt to fly that led to failure? Wind? Fog? The angle of the aircraft?” Researchers could then define what rules pilots needed to follow in order to succeed in each different circumstance. That’s a hallmark of good theory: it dispenses its advice in “if-then” statements.
  • Shamus 2021.04.29 11:41

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    My new reading of Longfellow's The Legend Beautiful is here: https://youtu.be/o0umTVf8Vfg
  • Ella 2021.04.29 11:44

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    I love your content
  • Mylene Maelinhon 2021.04.29 11:48

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    Is there Putin on the picture? 😬
  • Taerin 2021.04.29 11:55

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    Thank you!
  • May星空 2021.05.01 23:22

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    🌻
  • May星空 2021.05.01 23:44

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    🌻
  • May星空 2021.05.02 00:24

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    🌻
  • May星空 2021.05.02 00:31

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    🌻

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