Failed experiments

When does an experiment fail? And I mean a true experiment. One that you have no clue what the results would be but you had hope for things to go one particular way (which probably formed your hypothesis for the experiment).

Popular entertainment and even our education system would have us believe that an experiment fails when it failed to produce results we had hoped for. But in reality, a failed experiment is one that did not produce any useful results to prove or disprove the hypothesis. This happens because perhaps you are testing too many things at the same time and did not really isolate the hypothesis.

I’ve myself experienced many different policy experiments through my public service career. And too often, the service thinks of failure based on outcomes. But if we are seeing our ideas as trials and testing them out, the critical piece in the outcome is what it informs us, rather than whether what we hope to achieve is reached.

We have lost sight of our pursuit for knowledge and truth which will serve our longer term interests, in exchange for short term results and perceptions which is worth nothing in the future. At the end of the day, we ought to be refining our approach to challenges and not specific outcomes. Because we simply have to live yet another day to test out something else, so that eventually we may land on ideas and approaches that helps us thrive.

That had been the power of centuries of scientific inquiry and to stop right now would be a waste.