The Risk of Discovery

A fairly succinct piece on the reality (and necessity / guarantee) of making mistakes on the path toward something great. Also a valuable spin on our perception of Isaac Newton: Classically thought of as a pure scientific genius, but who was also into alchemy and theology. 

In Newton’s day the three problems seemed roughly equally promising. No one knew yet what the payoff would be for inventing what we now call physics; if they had, more people would have been working on it. And alchemy and theology were still then in the category Marc Andreessen would describe as “huge, if true.”

It’s as if we need to believe that smart people are infallible and were single minded toward the truths or successes that they become recognised for. There’s something fragile feeling about knowing the mistakes of the people we look up to. Maybe stemming from the feeling we imbue by default in our parents when we are young. Imagine how scary it would be for a young child to really understand that their parents are flawed and making it up as they go along. Better that we all trust that the people in charge, and that we celebrate for their genius, are truly special, rather than lucky or flukes of circumstance.  

The Risk of Discovery