Archive for the ‘Research Methods’ Category


Monday, June 3rd, 2013

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A story from a recent workshop:

An engineer sent a chip for testing. The report would say whether the chip broke under stress, or whether it worked properly. As the guy is coming to deliver the report, the engineer can see from the man’s face that the chip failed. Instantly, the engineer knows how the chip failed: A crack in this location from this much heat. He didn’t read the report — simply knowing the chip had failed was enough to make his mind come up with the most likely explanation. And as an expert, his most likely explanation is usually right.

That’s hindsight: Once X fails, your mind is great at telling a reasonable story for why X failed.

Which brings us to pre-hindsight: Before you attempt X, imagine a future where you know X failed. You’re getting that report. And let the hindsight part of your mind engage and tell you the most likely reason X failed. Then, in light of this insight, consider if you want to adjust your approach and instead do X+1.

I’ve been using this in my own magick work, when considering how to research certain techniques, and it’s been quite useful.

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