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  1. #1

    Default Little Lesson, Big Lesson...What do you learn from your "mistakes?"

    The overly simplistic picture for learning from ones mistakes is something I like to call "the hot stove."

    You touch a hot stove, burn yourself, and lear don't do THAT again.

    But what is the THAT?

    In this case, is it to avoid touching hot-stoves, to avoid the kitchen completely, to avoid touching things that will burn you?

    The above was mostly rhethorical. The basic idea is that when something goes wrong, people attribute the problem to different reasons. How do you go about deciding what the reasons for problems are? How much time do you spend on discernment?

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
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  2. #2
    Glowy Goopy Goodness The_Liquid_Laser's Avatar
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    I think our perception is usually very good at unconsciously teaching us the proper lesson. If we touch a hot stove, then we know not to touch the stove again. We wouldn't avoid the kitchen, because nothing else in the kitchen harmed us. These decisions are made unconsciously and they are sound, so not much time needs to be spent on them.

    I think what short circuits sound reasoning is emotions like fear. For example if a person burned by a stove became afraid of the stove then they might come to any sorts of conclusions. They might avoid the kitchen entirely simply because the stove is in there. Or they might see the stove as "bad" or "evil" and seek to destroy it or demonize it to other people. Being aware of our emotions can help us to overcome fear and make clear decions.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member reason's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Liquid_Laser View Post
    I think our perception is usually very good at unconsciously teaching us the proper lesson. If we touch a hot stove, then we know not to touch the stove again. We wouldn't avoid the kitchen, because nothing else in the kitchen harmed us. These decisions are made unconsciously and they are sound, so not much time needs to be spent on them.
    But how do you know that the hot stove is responsible? The problem which ygolo is talking about is also known as 'theory-ladennes'. In short, our experience must be theoretically interpreted before we can learn a lesson, but what if that theoretical interpretation is incorrect? That means we could learn the wrong lesson, and so it is not necessarily obvious that we should consider the act of touching the hot stove responsible for our pain. There are, presumably, infinitely many logically consistent ways of interpreting the evidence, and the lesson we learn will often be dependent upon which we choose.

    Now I do not consider this to be a major problem. If we already subscribe to some principle of fallibility then that fact that our interpretation of the evidence might be mistaken is nothing earth-shaking, but it does strike a thorn in the side of more naive theories of knowledge. Generally, we decide which fragment of our interpretation of the world we think is responsible for a mistake, and then tentatively refute and revise that fragment. If problems persist then we may begin to consider that something more fundamental in our understanding of the world is leading us astray, and identify other problematic areas of our thought.

    The hope is that we get it right more often than wrong, but then I think that natural selection might have something to say about anyone who gets it hopelessly wrong too often, and that is precisely why those who are alive today are so adept at playing the guessing game.
    Last edited by reason; 08-19-2008 at 07:26 AM.
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    Wonderer Samuel De Mazarin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    The basic idea is that when something goes wrong, people attribute the problem to different reasons. How do you go about deciding what the reasons for problems are? How much time do you spend on discernment?
    There's this saying... it's easy to attribute it to a Chinese dude, but I don't know where it actually came from...

    "There are three kinds of people... the wise one avoids making mistakes simply by observing others... the average one makes a mistake and learns never to repeat it... the fool never learns: he keeps on making the same mistake over and over again."

    I'd say if you found the mean between the "average one" and the outright "fool", I'd be right there.

    As for understanding the nature of the problem, I usually understand the problem very well... it typically is in-born... and I choose to continue... the easiest example is drug-use... I know it wrecks my body, ruins my social life, has ruined many excellent opportunities in work and academics... but I like it enough to continue with it... I made a value-decision which overrode my common-sense understanding that I'd be better off just quitting.

    I hope this contributes meaningfully....
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    Wonderer Samuel De Mazarin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by reason View Post
    . . . .
    Now I do not consider this to be a major problem. If we already subscribe to some principle of fallibility then that fact that our interpretation of the evidence might be mistaken is nothing earth-shaking, but it does strike a thorn in the side of more naive theories of knowledge. Generally, we decide which fragment of our interpretation of the world we think is responsible for a mistake, and then tentatively refute and revise that fragment. If problems persist then we may begin to consider that something more fundamental in our understanding of the world is leading us astray, and identify other problematic areas of our thought.

    The hope is that we get it right more often than wrong, but then I think that natural selection might have something to say about anyone who gets it hopelessly wrong too often, and that is precisely why those who are alive today are so adept at playing the guessing game.

    This is the whole question-and-answer in a single post. There's little more to say.
    Madman's azure lie: a zen miasma ruled.

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    Quote Originally Posted by reason View Post
    But how do you know that the stove is hot stove is responsible?
    Exactly. We don't know.

    So it's common to mis-attribute things and then build a whole framework of life around a mistake.

    And as you say, testing and revision -- essentially triangulating our experiences and data -- is necessary to at least improve the chance that we've pinpointed the real cause of our distress.

    As far as natural selection, however: Usually mistakes don't kill people, they just leave them and those around them miserable, and the culprit still persists into ripe old age. If the continual mistake was lethal, then perhaps it would mean something. Usually people, once they have a framework entrenched, will persist with it until the pain of clinging to it is worse than the pain of letting it go and reevaluating; often this can involve a great amount of pain before things change. And sometimes they never will: It's easier to scapegoat the mistake unto someone else than admit one's framework was wrong.

    ("How dare you suggest that stove isn't dangerous! It's clearly hot and is most responsible for the pain in my life!")
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    This question is what I would call one which needn't be answered, and the whole idea one which needn't be dwelled upon. The posing of the question is a mistake, and what needs to be known is whether this single question will be avoided in the future, or the asking of any questions at all, or even conscious thought entirely.

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    mrs disregard's Avatar
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    What have I learned from my mistakes? To have the courage to make more of them.

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    Senior Member Ilah's Avatar
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    I generally think in terms of how can I avoid a repeat of the problem, rather than what or who is responsible. It is far more practical

    For example, once I paid for a monthly bill in cash and forgot to get a receipt. I was never credited for my payment. I had to pay the money twice and got penalized for a late payment. Technically, it was not my fault the payment was not credited to my account. However, I could prevent a repeat of that happening by always paying with a check or always getting a reciept when I paid cash.

    I think some people will get caught up the whole "not my fault" thing and it translates in their mind as nothing I can do about it, circumstances beyond my control. So they keep having the same mistakes and often play the victum. The poor person everything bad happens to.

    Ilah

  10. #10

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    The question is most relavent when a group of people make a mistake collectively, and all of them point to different reasons that things went wrong.

    The stove example was used for illustration purposes, so that people don't slide into a "well it's all a little true" mentality (though it could all certainly be a little true).

    Group mistakes happens a lot in engineering in a corporate environment. Especially when different groups of people are responsible for different things. Almost noone will own-up and say it was their own fault for what happened.

    Missing schedule, is something that probably can be attributed to many things, but having too broad a scope, and creating a market driven schedule is almost always the culprit in my mind (but I am a developer).

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

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