Skilful Or Superstitious?
Birds of a feather flock together, for they say like attracts like, whether they like it or not. If you combine sufficient and sufficiently robust ‘likes’ together, a pattern is produced. But what does ‘of a feather’ actually mean in practice?
More importantly, when any two or more things flock together, does this mean they are ‘of a feather’?
They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, that subjective assessments determine the presence or absence of beauty. What about patterns – are they also in the eye of the beholder? Are one person’s patterns another person’s coincidences?
The development, refinement and ongoing validation of patterns underpin skilled performance. The generation of such patterns could be considered the primary objective of experiential learning. As you now know, patterns afford greater effectiveness and much greater efficiency of performance.
You take a big chunk out of the required effort to do something because you’ve put in the required effort to establish chunks!
Nevertheless, each and every pattern is affected by transient outliers; such novelties could the unusual forms of the usual or usual forms of the unusual. In contrast, patterns are usual forms of the usual, which usually apply most (but not all) of the time. Sorting out the unusual ‘usual’ (unexpected variations), the usual ‘unusual’ (unexpected novelties) and the usual ‘usual’ (expected routines) is the essence of validation – what do these things mean and how do they link together? This is another area in which distortions can appear.
Validation is a product of continuing experience. ‘Flocking together’ does not, by itself, make a valid pattern, even if you initially assign meaning to these apparent links. Coincidental connections occur all the time and mean little or nothing. Experience will diminish and delete these connections but only if you stop clinging to them, defying the evidence of experiences to protect personal superstitions. And ‘when you believe in things that you don’t understand ….. superstition ain’t the way’:
The distinctions between cause, correlate and coincidence can be difficult to learn for experience and personal meaning are common to all three dimensions. Patterns can contain real and illusory elements – making sense of the former and seeing sense on the latter is all part of your learning journey. Will you be skilful or superstitious?