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16 June 2010 @ 09:58 pm
Feed Your Head: Always an Option!  
Last week's Yoda quote raised a little controversy in the comments.

Here's another quote that I find equally compelling:

"Failure is always an option!"

—Adam Savage, Mythbusters

In my mind, this does not conflict in any way with Yoda's "Do, or do not; there is no try."

Let's put that into some context, courtesy CNET:

That leads to another question I wanted to ask: Talk about the notion of "Failure is always an option."

Savage: Well, people always imagine a scientist sets up an experiment to prove something. When it doesn't, they imagine him saying "my experiment was a failure." In fact, a real scientist sets up an experiment to test something. If he was wrong about his preconceptions, he's far from upset. In fact, it means something else entirely new has been illuminated. This is how it is for us, and thus we say that any experiment that yields data, even if we were wrong about what that data would be, is a successful experiment.

As Unca Sammy taught me to say:

Failure1 is not Failure2.

When Yoda says, "that is why you fail1", he's saying "you have sabotaged yourself with your own doubt and disbelieve, and your impatience has caused you to surrender when you have actually made headway toward accomplishing your goal." Only, you know, in backwards Muppet Moonspeak.

Failure1 means giving up.

When Adam says "failure2 is not an option", he's saying that, to an experimenter, there are no failures: there are unanticipated successes.

Failure2 means learning something new.

They are the same word, but they are not the same idea.

The "Feed Your Head" series started with the subject line, "Things I KNOW, but need to LEARN". If I sound didactic, rest assured that you are not the intended student body.

Which doesn't mean you're not welcome to audit the course, naturally.

(Deleted comment)
Tube: nyeah!toob on June 17th, 2010 03:34 pm (UTC)
Your Obedient Serpent: tell it like it ISathelind on June 17th, 2010 03:52 pm (UTC)
This calls for a RUSH QUOTE!
"You can fight
Fight without ever winning
But never, ever win
Win without a fight."

-- Rush, "Resist",
from Test for Echo

Edited at 2010-06-17 04:09 pm (UTC)
Tube: Look Around Youtoob on June 17th, 2010 05:21 pm (UTC)
Re: This calls for a RUSH QUOTE!
I disobey Rush.

All my wins have been without fighting.

Maybe fighting PREVENTS winning?
Your Obedient Serpent: no help whatsoeverathelind on June 17th, 2010 06:51 pm (UTC)
Re: This calls for a RUSH QUOTE!
You win.
ArchTeryxarchteryx on June 17th, 2010 10:53 pm (UTC)
Re: This calls for a RUSH QUOTE!
Well, *I* think your Rush quote is awesome. Nothing I've ever gotten in my life has come without a fight -- sometimes a fight to the death. Re: toob below, it must really be nice to live a life where everything is handed to you on a silver platter.
Terminotaur: sillinessterminotaur on June 22nd, 2010 12:16 am (UTC)
Re: This calls for a RUSH QUOTE!
"No one gets to their heaven without a fight"

-Rush "Armor and Sword"
The Weasel Kingtheweaselking on June 17th, 2010 04:55 pm (UTC)
Terminotaur: Science 2terminotaur on June 22nd, 2010 12:53 am (UTC)
If you fail to learn that is when actual failure occurs. This I think is what Yoda is saying but with the Force. Luke saying he doesn't believe it is pretty much an admission of not learning what he's been doing for how long he's been there ("Alright I'll give it a try" is pretty much an admission I think that he sees this as much different than what he's done, let alone the line "You want the impossible"). After failing, he disbelieves when just said seconds earlier Yoda says and demonstrates how this is all possible. Yoda's given him the background to understand, but Luke has learned how to lift small things, not the implications of it. Rather than embrace the possibility of these greater implications he spurns it. He chooses to close off his mind before even trying.

The sad thing is how many want to just give up. I don't know how many I've taught experimental techniques to. When something goes wrong they want to throw it all out and start again. I keep telling them that these techniques aren't set in stone. Their mistake may not matter to the final experimental result, or may show something different. Either way everyone could learn from it, and maybe modify the experimental protocol. My first paper was a shot in dark at what seemed reasonable. :)

I suppose its the same in life. Much as I try so hard to avoid massive mistakes, they have often been the major source for improvement in who I am. However, they only are as long as I try to learn. velvetpage is right that it is a harder thing to apply to life lessons, yet I think its vital that we do.