Your Obedient Serpent (athelind) wrote,
Your Obedient Serpent

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.

Tags: feed your head, fnord, general semantics, reference, semiotics, you're so vain

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