A-B-D Always Be Disproving

Posted on October 21, 2012


We are pattern-matchers. Everyone from writers to musicians to surgeons to lawyers to CEOs to programmers need to have an intimate understanding of the patterns that define their profession in order to be successful.

Patterns are also at the heart of stereotypes and numerous other human behaviors such as loss aversion, which can frequently lead to negative outcomes.

I think we need to embrace our amazing ability to pattern-match, we need to educate our students how to leverage it as effectively as possible, we need to develop feedback loops that allow us to explore and discover nuanced patterns in all professions, etc.

We also need to approach our pattern discovery from the position of disproving a pattern. If we only look to prove out our patterns, we tend to ignore any new information that doesn’t fit the pattern. This leads to us relying on patterns beyond what is appropriate and making mistakes. If, however, we focus on disproving out patterns we’ll pay closer attention to the edge cases where a pattern starts to break down. Focusing on the edge cases allow us to gain a more nuanced understanding of a pattern, which is the goal of every expert.

I truly believe that an educational system that focuses on helping students develop their ability to discover patterns while encouraging students to constantly try to disprove their own patterns will serve students far more effectively in life than one that focuses on the memorization of facts or even the understanding of material.

An individual who is constantly trying to disprove the patterns they see around them will gain wisdom and experience much more quickly. With more nuanced patterns at their disposal they’ll be able to make a larger and more impactful contribution to society.

Posted in: Pattern Matching