try and try,one day you can fly

1710 WordsDec 12, 20147 Pages
WE need more acceptance of error, of being wrong. This might sound an odd proposition. Most of us strive to avoid mistakes, at work and home. We bring up our children to answer exam questions correctly rather than incorrectly. And yet, despite our desire to be right, error is necessary. It is part of what makes us human. We resist this. After all, the pleasure we take in being right is one of the most fundamental we have. The opportunity to say, or at least think, ''I told you so'', exists in just about everyone. And apart from being right about specific events - an outcome in foreign policy, say, or the winner of the first race at Randwick - we have an even more fundamental feeling that we are right about pretty well everything. This…show more content…
But even Ridley would agree with the need for a certain amount of error. We need mistakes to thrive, in nature and culture. Genes need to mutate to give natural selection something to work on. And in culture, lots of ideas need to be dreamed up, most of them duds, for the few useful ones to be identified, nourished and distributed. Benjamin Franklin was wise on the subject of mistakes, writing in 1784, ''Perhaps the history of the errors of mankind, all things considered, is more valuable and interesting than that of their discoveries. Truth is uniform and narrow; it constantly exists, and does not seem to require so much an active energy, as a passive aptitude of soul in order to encounter it. But error is endlessly diversified; it has no reality, but is the pure and simple creation of the mind that invents it. In this field, the soul has enough room to expand herself, to display all her boundless faculties, and all her beautiful and interesting extravagancies and absurdities.'' In less whimsical vein, British economist William Stanley Jevons observed, ''In all probability the errors of the great mind exceed in number those of the less vigorous one. Fertility of imagination and abundance of guesses at truth are among the first requisites of discovery; but the erroneous guesses must be many times as numerous as those that prove well-founded.'' Approving this, Steven Johnson wrote in Where Good Ideas Come From, ''error is not simply a phase you have to
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