Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Taking a Leap

In Stephen Downes' article about what you really need to learn, he covers predicting consequences of actions first. He uses the example of wanting to jump across a rock chasm. The culture of "The Secret" recommends visualizing success. That can be very helpful, however, you also need to visualize the consequences of failure and predict its probability. 

If I don't succeed in jumping the chasm, I will fall to my death. Given the consequences, it would be a good idea to get more info on the probability of failure. 

Can you jump the same distance on flat ground? You can use the Visor Trick ( to measure the same distance on the flat ground to the side of you. Jump the distance a sufficient number of times. Now decide whether it's worth trying.

The opposite situation can also be examined. You want to go into the ocean in the Florida Keys but you are afraid of sharks. You imagine yourself in the water and the lifeguard signals that there is a shark and you see yourself simply getting out of the water. 

Just to be sure you look at the probability of shark attacks in the Florida Keys compared to traffic fatalities: 18 non-fatal attacks in over 100 years. 19 car fatalities in Monroe County (Florida Keys) in 2011.

Think of a time when you had a failure that you could have avoided if you had thought it through. Think of a time when you didn't do something you wanted to do because you assumed that it was likely to fail when it probably wasn't.

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