Failure is the Status Quo

Everything starts as a failure. You have nowhere to go but up!

gk on May 31, 2012 in Entrepreneurship About a 1 minute read.

The freedom in failure is that nobody cares. Nobody cares about your project, book, business, art, or undertaking. If it fails, you've simply maintained the status quo. If it succeeds, you've accomplished the truly remarkable.

Epistemology teaches us that Failure is one of life's greatest gifts. Failure drives science. It's the only way we really know anything at all. Scientific knowledge can never be fully confirmed: theories can only be invalidated. This is why beliefs that can not in principle be falsified can never even in principle constitute knowledge, and also why they are so dangerous.

It seems that this is not at all understood by the general public. Creationists use this ignorance as the sole basis of their critique of evolutionary 'theory'. Claiming that evolution is 'merely' a theory and that it has not been fully confirmed (or explained, or that there are 'gaps' in the evidence, etc., etc.). This line of argument either demonstrates the grossest ignorance about what actually constitutes knowledge, or is downright malicious. Every single thing that science has taught us or even ever can tell us about the universe is theory: the germ theory of disease, the theory of relativity, information theory, etc. (the exceptions to this are the non-empirical sciences: logical systems/math). 

One upshot of this is that there are no recipes for success. You can't reliably reproduce it. You can, however spell out consistently reproducible recipes for failure. That is one reason it is so valuable to discover one of these 'recipes' ;-)  People get this backwards all the time. They see somebody successful, and they think, 'If I can just follow the steps that person did, then I will succeed too.' This is a fallacy. It is generally better to share our failures. It is much more likely that the steps to failure can be reliably reproduced, so it is far more valuable to understand and avoid them.

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