Pop Pap
Bill Quick

Failing Well Is the American Way | National Review Online

But good judgment comes from experience. And experience comes from bad judgment — from failures. The key question is how you respond, whether you learn from failure and rebound.

Sorry, but like more and more of what McArdle indulges herself in these days, this is bullshit.  Experience comes from bad” judgment and failure.  It also comes from good judgment and success, and from the whole spectrum between them.

Everybody is experienced.  The key is what you do with that experience, how you evaluate it, and how it influences the decisions you make in the future.  And her musings about hunters and farmers only indicate her complete ignorance about either.

Talk to a hunter about the “luck” involved in spending ten or twenty years learning tracking, trapping, and killing skills.  Talk to a farmer about the “hard work and conscientiousness” involved in seeing your harvest washed away by rain or shiveled by drought.

And she even drags out that ancient Goldman Hollywood chestnut, “Nobody knows anything.”  Even Goldman knew that was bullshit.  Goldman knew how to write a script.  I made well over six figures writing screenplays.  I know how to write them, too.

What Goldman was trying to get at is that there is no certainty in whether what you do know – everything that goes into making movies – will be profitably offered to the public.  If you could know what would be a hit, you’d never write anything but a hit.  This is patently ridiculous. This is also rather a far cry from the idiotic twist McArdle attempts to put on the statement.  In fact. Goldman’s notion distinctly contravenes the idea that failure leads to success.  Goldman is saying that even writing a very good script is no guarantee that the next script will be a success.  Or the next, or the one after that.  There is nothing you can learn from consecutive failures that will guarantee future success.  Nobody knows anything, in other words.  Nor can they.  Each roll of the dice is fresh.

But hey.  McArdle’s pop economic psychobabble will probably meet with great success in certain quarters, never mind that at its heart it is in large part wrong, and certainly barely rises to the level of even average intelligence.

Now, if she’d attempted to make the case that some people are smarter than others, and are able to rationally evaluate their experience of both success, failure, and everything else, and come up with strategies more likely to succeed in the future than those with less native intellectual prowess, that might have been interesting.  In short, if you want to be successful, on average, being intelligent will goose the odds in your favor.

But since that would violate everything about the modern radical egalitarian culture, I can see why she didn’t go there.  Probably wouldn’t have been a successful book in that case.

Posted in Bullshit permalink
Bill Quick

About Bill Quick

I am a small-l libertarian. My primary concern is to increase individual liberty as much as possible in the face of statist efforts to restrict it from both the right and the left. If I had to sum up my beliefs as concisely as possible, I would say, "Stay out of my wallet and my bedroom," "your liberty stops at my nose," and "don't tread on me." I will believe that things are taking a turn for the better in America when married gays are able to, and do, maintain large arsenals of automatic weapons, and tax collectors are, and do, not.


Pop Pap — 6 Comments

  1. As you say, there’s a big difference between having experience and learning from it. I’ve often joked about the difference between someone with ten years of experience and someone with one year of experience repeated ten times.

    I do think people often learn more from failure than from success, mostly because failure is a clear sign that there is something that needs learning. When you succeed, it’s easy to rest on your laurels. When you fail, you need to figure out why or you end up living in a cardboard box under the freeway overpass. (Or getting a bailout from the Obama regime.)

      • In the Obameconomy, if you want to have a million bucks, start with two million.

        Now, if you have real money to start with, that’s a whole different game. You can be a player if you want to, and use the system to make you mo’ money, mo’ money. It’s a hell of a sweet deal. Much better than earning money by adding value to the economy.

  2. One of my favorite stories:

    Some people learn from books.
    Some people learn from lectures.
    Some people learn from observing other people making mistakes.

    But there’s always that one guy who just has to pee on the electric fence…

  3. “But there’s always that one guy who just has to pee on the electric fence…”

    True electric fence story:

    Many moons ago when dog containment fences with shocking collars first came out they were a bit expensive. The Great Dog Hattie (Chesapeake Bay) would roam through the neighborhood given any opportunity. So, I spot an electric pet fence meant to keep pets and other wildlife out of your garden. This is your typical electric fence in a smaller size. Cheap, compared to the other type. So, I decide I will get this, string it up in the backyard about 14 inches high, and “train” the Great Dog Hattie to stay in the yard. After about a day of work putting this thing in I proceed to “train” the Great Dog. Did I mention this is a pulse type fence? It pulses off and on. I have put flags all along the fence line as visual cues just like the real thing. On the leash I take the Great Dog out and as she approaches the fence give her the sharp command NO and pull her back from the brink of electronic destruction. I do this over and over. Smart dog, the Great one, she KNOWS what this means. So, we are finally ready to let the Great Dog learn the hard way:) I take the Great Dog off the leash (as long as I’m right there she’ll wander but not just bolt off). She approaches the fence. Eyes the wire. The Great Dog bites the wire. She mouths the wire some more. Nothing. The Great Dog eyes the master with a “what is this look”. Hmm, maybe she’s got insulated feet or something??? Try a spot further down with moister ground. The Great Dog eyes the fence. Bites the fence again. Nothing. Damn! That is a lot of work for a fence that doesn’t work. I walk over and grab the fence. Nothing. BAM, about 2 seconds later I’m struck by lightning.

    The Great Dog Hattie apparently timed the first couple of tastes perfectly in order to test the effect on the master first. It worked, as I did not go near the damn fence for another week.