Saturday, 3 October 2009

Doing the same thing creates change.,

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. (Albert Einstein)

I disagree. Or rather, there are situations where doing the same thing over and over again is the key to create different results.

So, if you do the same thing over and over again you should very often expect different results. Doing the same thing will trigger change.

If you every morning ignore your wife your marriage will change. If you take a hammer and hit the wall the wall will change, and one day there will be a hole. If you treat people in a fair and consistent way the respect for you will change - grow.
If you kick your dog over and over again it will die. And with the last kick the result will be different.

There are plenty of situations that are less drastic of course.

Every sound qoute makes sense only in specific contexts.


  1. great change in perspective of repeating the same process leading to different results.
    I never thought of those examples.
    I appreciated how you wrote about treating people fairly and honestly will lead to a positive change.
    Many time we only notice the negtive repetitions and the feel that the positive ones are what we should do so we should not praise them.

  2. When Einstein said "the same thing" he meant it. It's not "the same thing" if the circumstances have changed. In all of your examples for each time repeating the circumstances change. Ignore your wife and the circumstances change, ignoring her the next day is not "the same thing" then.

    That Einstein quote can't be used to justify stuff like a sloppy "We've already tried that. Didn't work". But it clearly pushes us away from the practice of, say, bank bailouts. Didn't work last time we did it. Won't work this time. Because the fundamental circumstances haven't changed. People, even bank people, will continue to be respond to incentives.

  3. Good point. Avery action change the system. You cannot step into the same river twice.
    Even doing bank bailout will change the system, people will get more angry for each time perhaps? Or we will run out of money?

    Every action should be considered. Sometimes it should be repeated. Sometimes not.

  4. Yes, doing bank bailouts changes the system (in a very, very, very bad way). But it doesn't change the fundamentals of how humans work. Thus it is insane to try it again and again and expect different results. It will always have the result of promoting reckless banking.

  5. I am optimistic. It might be insane in short run - but I still think that it eventually would produce different results. And it will change some of our behaviour.

    Question is how many attempts you are willing to "spend"...

    I basically agree with your point though. And Einstein was at least relatively right...

  6. This is getting a bit off topic, but I usually describe myself as incurably optimistic. But this morning I woke up with a horrible "insight" (it felt like an insight, but it was hopefully just a left-over from a bad dream). It was this "The welfare states of the world has reached their limits. This might be the final crisis we're experiencing and we won't recover from it."

    Or in your terms "we've spent the last attempt". We didn't listen to Einstein.

  7. But, maybe that is a good insight - or vision. Whatever will come afterwards might be better. Depending on perspectives of course. But maybe we get systems that better take care of the planet and its future. Maybe systems without some of the drawbacks with current systems.
    Maybe we get welfare in another form. Although the transition might be tough.

    In "final crisis" something new can be born.

    I like to think that even if all we humans leave there are other species that might do a better job taking care of the planet. Salmons perhaps. Or ants. Or maybe even mosquitos.

    Dinosaurs ruled the earth for 65 million years. How well will we do compared to that?

  8. What will humanity be in 65 million years? I hope I reincarnate then and can see for myself. =)

    Yes, a final crisis could definitely lead to something good. But somehow I wonder. The Keynes beast seems to always rise again whenever you thought it was dead. His message to politicians that their spending is the key to economic wealth and growth seems irresistible...

    Anyway, back on topic. Funny that this blog itself is a proof that Einstein was wrong. Whenever I try to post a comment it takes between 3 and 20 (well, that's the record so far) tries of "exactly the same thing" (clicking the "Post Comment" button) to get the blog to accept the comment.