Concerning experience and its alternatives

Some thoughts on learning from experience, and cheaper ways of getting to the same result.

A recent post tagged “aphorisms” led to a reader request for more like it. I’m a big fan of the form, and along with David Hsia I put together a small compendium called “Out of Context.”

Here’s a sample: a series of thoughts on learning from experience, and other, cheaper ways of achieving the same goal. These aren’t original (e.g., #4 is Poor Richard, and the last is a paraphrase of Popper) but we took the liberty of rewording to our own taste.

Good judgement comes from experience.
Experience comes from bad judgement.

Experience is the name
people give their mistakes.

Only slow learners get burned twice.

Fool me once, shame on you.
Fool me twice, shame on me.

Experience keeps a hard school,
but some fools will learn at no other.

Anyone can learn from a mistake;
it takes a genius
to learn from success.

It’s much cheaper to learn
from someone else’s mistakes.
That’s called “history.”

Science is a way of getting experience
without paying the full price.
We make our theories die in our stead.

Words-of-wisdom Dep’t

It’s always nice when you learn, years later, that a student actually remembers something you said. It’s even nicer when it’s something you’d forgotten ever saying.

Had coffee this week with someone I had in class maybe 18 years ago, now doing a fairly senior job in Washington. She said her current job had convinced her that I was right to say (as she recalls): “Never believe a statistic you didn’t make up yourself.”