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"Self-correction is a sign of intelligent behavior."

Self-correction is a sign of intelligent behavior.

Steering wheel

From yours truly.

Examples: Admitting what you're trying is not working, and then changing direction. Requirements: Humility, honesty. Thoughts?

Reader Comments (8)

I agree. It is not only a sign of intelligent behavior, but making mistakes - and correcting [for] them - is the key to becoming more intelligent, as individuals and a society.

I enumerated a number of examples of this pattern in a blog post - http://gumption.typepad.com/blog/2010/07/all-models-studies-and-wikipedia-entries-are-wrong-some-are-useful.html - and will include the most relevant excerpt below:

Kathryn Schulz, author of Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error, wrote an article for The Boston Globe about the bright side of wrong - http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2010/06/13/the_bright_side_of_wrong/ - in which she notes that inductive reasoning - generalizing from specifics - is one of our most powerful abilities, but it is only useful if we can recognize, admit and correct for the mistakes that are inherent to this type of reasoning.

If you haven't already read the book, I think you would enjoy it, as I see it as very well aligned with an experiment-driven life.
November 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJoe McCarthy
I am not even sure it's a sign of being very intelligent, but rather it is really having the emotional control to look at oneself honestly. YOu can be very highly intelligent and still be afraid to look at oneself in the mirror and evaluating honestly.

it's not that easy to see yourself objectively, espcially your failures. Is it really a question of intelligence? or maybe something else? e..g. being confident, being in the moment, etc. Or maybe those qualities are a different type of intelligence?
November 21, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjp in maryland
Yeah, other words...
self-confidence, internal locus of control, lack of fear, light-heartedness. Etc. That type of "emotional intelligence" if you want to call it that.
November 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterErik Haugsjaa
@Joe Hey, Joe - it is kind of you to stop by. Re: making mistakes: Absolutely. They are an inevitable byproduct of trying new things. Reframing them is something I'm writing about in my Think, Try, Learn book. Our society currently sees making mistakes, and especially /admitting/ them, as a sign of weakness. This is bad because it limits our options, and ability to speak the truth and grow, i.e., to become more intelligent as you say. I enjoyed your excellent post, including Schulz's article. Thanks very much!

@JP "emotional control to look at oneself honestly" - Yes! That's probably a prerequisite. You remind me of my daughter's admonition to "Take the truth, daddy." :-)

November 24, 2010 | Registered CommenterMatthew Cornell
you know after reading David Allens GTD book I thought he was on to something but he stopped short at the full impact of what he was saying. That is he began to mention addiction and posed the question : "How is that this guy is successful at business or whatever and he needs to take a drink to function?" Thinking about this task ahead caused so much stress that the drink calmed him down, or something like that.

It occurred to me what if all the tasks we are procrastinating on is because of an emotion that we associate with them? SO I began to take an inventory: I had wanted to put up a gate at the top of the stairs for safety for my father; but every time I started to think about I got distracted, did the clothes, got groceries and did something else. i realized that the fear of my father falling down the steps was so frightening that I was putting off the one thing that I needed to do. Stupid! I know..And I thought about all the other tasks in my life that I couldnt finish and it seemed like they all had some emotional baggage attached to them.

So try this experiment: list all of your tasks that you have trouble completing, then if you can write down next to them what emotion you aquaint with them. Then if you have room for a third column try to describe the process that happens. E.g. "Fear; I am afraid of dad falling so I procrastinate." There's other ways the process might work, there could be avoidance, there could be some argument you get into at work, etc.

Try it.
November 25, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjp in maryland
Good one, JP. Thanks for sharing your analysis. Emotional resistance is definitely one of the many possible causes of procrastination. In my ebook on daily planning I fit in various experiments to try using the plan as a platform for testing. I'll add yours to the list of additional ones.
November 26, 2010 | Registered CommenterMatthew Cornell
Hi Matt...am really enjoying your blog.

I think all living things are self-correcting. The more meta-awareness that humans bring to decision-making is an indicator of how effortless and/or elegant the self-correction process is, i.e., how well one is flowing and accessing available energy.

I've been reading Stephen Wolinsky lately and thinking about trance/no-trance states. Wolinsky writes, "The distinction between a trance and a no-trance state is, did you create it or did it just happen to you? In a trance state the experience happens to you, which means that you forget the larger Self behind the experience as you shrink your focus of attention to fit into that experience. You are not in touch with the fact that you are the creator of the trance you are experiencing. In a no-trance state, you are aware of yourself as the creator of the experience, which then moves you beyond the experience." (Trances People Live)

No-trance self-correction is a sign of intuitive intelligence.
December 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJodi
OK, officially blew my mind, Jodi. Really great to have you here. Wolinsky goes on the research stack. The trance/non-trance states make sense to me the way you describe it. Thanks a ton.
December 5, 2010 | Registered CommenterMatthew Cornell

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