12 November 2015

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Embracing mistakes

Dear friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: Embracing mistakes.

From my few ideas I've put together on the topic, the key issue for us
would be deciding what we mean by "embracing mistakes."

Embracing mistakes

For those who are fond of references and background reading, the
following list would be a good start:
Quotes About Mistakes
TED: Playlist (7 talks): How to learn from mistakes
Why Learning From Mistakes Is Overrated
Learning From Mistakes

The nasty thing about mistakes is that the cure comes with the downfall.
And this is the lesson we learn from the problem of induction in
philosophy. So how should we understand the topic: embracing mistakes?

Clearly the first meaning ought to be, learning from mistakes, and to
achieve this I would add "accept mistakes as an opportunity to learn
from them". This is well and good of course, but sometimes we cannot
learn from mistakes because we are dead or so damaged, both physically
and mentally, we just cannot reverse life back and start again. Hence,
there are limits to how much of a free hand we should allow mistakes.

And of course, there is another issue, we just don't know when we are
making a mistake! But luckily there are all sorts of mistakes we can
commit in our life; some we can just pass over like a small bump in the
road, others are inconvenient, and some are quite serious, even life
changing. The next level would be fatal and not much of a concern for us

Mistakes can happen because of negligence, absent mindedness, arrogance,
and, of course, lack of knowledge. But in a perfect world we would
accept the consequences and move on. But we don't live in a perfect
world and we don't always learn from our mistakes.

The sad truth is that in society, especially ours, mistakes are not
always used to learn but rather to punish. And I am not referring to
crime, but for example blame management. It is well documented today
that some companies create an environment where people are more
concerned about covering their backs for any mistakes they might make,
rather than being innovative or putting the interest of the company
first. This of course should not be interpreted as a care-free attitude
towards work or life. On the contrary, this means that we should be more
positive and responsible for our actions, not because we might be fired,
but because only by being responsible can we do what we have to do to
succeed and advance.

So the idea of not making mistakes and learning from mistakes should not
be a matter of blame but a matter of being responsible. There is not
room for irresponsibility in life or society. But the blame mentality
also affects the medical profession especially in over litigious societies.

Indeed the blame and punish mentality can have serious effects on
patients and maybe doctors themselves. See for example this report from
Reuters in 2011: Blame-free system increases medical error reports

But if the medical profession is afraid of law suits, what excuse does
the scientific community have for not publishing negative results? Why
aren't negative results published widely, at the very least other
scientists won't make the same mistakes and maybe errors can be
corrected and useful knowledge can be put to good use rather than wait
for the next discovery.

The blame-punishment culture starts very early in our life: the
education system does not lend itself to learning from mistakes despite
any lip service or half hearted efforts to the contrary. When mistakes
are used to exclude people rather than to teach or learn from not much
good can come out of such a system.

Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813
philomadrid@gmail.com <mailto:philomadrid@gmail.com>
Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
Metro: Bilbao
Open Tertulia in English every
Thursdays at Triskel in c/San Vicente Ferrer 3.
Time: from 19:30 to 21h

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Embracing mistakes

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