Learning can be dangerous.

When we have done something, it’s important to understand if it was worth it. Did it work? To determine this we judge the results… “We did this and that happened”; good old cause and effect. Based on that judgement, the learning drives the next round of behaviour. This is one of the founding principles of development, life, design thinking, and problem solving.

The really dangerous side of learning, is the misinterpretation of what just happened and why; even when it seems clear and obvious. With deductive reasoning we conclude that… “We did this, that happened, and this is the reason why”. More often than not our judgement/ learning isn’t based on something concrete. This isn’t a science experiment where we can control every variable. Our judgement and subsequent learning is more often than not, based on a guess/ assumption.

A famous and controversial example is the cause and effect of the crime rate drop in New York in the late 90’s, proposed by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt (authors of Freakanomics). If you are interested, here is a short video on it.

So, of course we need to learn, but we need to be really careful about what we learn, as that drives what we do next.