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Why do you think humans in general are more prone to failure than success?

  1. Dec 27, 2009 #1
    Discuss. I suppose one person's failure could be another person's success. But In this context, I defined failure as not reaching all of your goals and success as reaching all of your goals. Even seemingly successful people have seen more failures than success.Einstein was said to publish scientific papers prolifically, but most of them never came close to matching the success of his papers on special relativity and general relativity. Shakespeare was said to write at least 40 plays, but I think at least 8 of his plays are considered of any importance to the world. Is it like this for everyone? Could there be genetic reasons for why I believe most humans experience more failure than success.
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2009
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 27, 2009 #2
    Because there is only one absolute correct answer vs. many, many incorrect answers. We learn what is not and keep narrowing the possibilities.
  4. Dec 27, 2009 #3
    The difference between the human mind and random selection is our ability to apply reasoning to information gathering and shorten the amount of time it takes to arrive at the truth.
  5. Dec 27, 2009 #4


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    seems to contradict the question "Why do you think humans in general are more prone to failure than success?"

    Education and personality are significant factors in determining one's success or failure.
  6. Dec 27, 2009 #5
    typo. I meant to say why humans are more prone to failure than success. Yes knowledge always gives people who acquires lots of it an advantage. But even knowledgeable people experience more failure than success. Seemingly successful people only experience a higher success rate better than their fellow man. But that does not mean that they will meet all of the goals that they set for themselves.
  7. Dec 27, 2009 #6
    Depends on what you mean by importance to the world. I don't think any of them were really important to the world. But if you mean important as in world renowned plays that are acted out all over the world, then he has a lot more than 8.
    It's hard for Einstein to repeat the success of relativity, if that's the measuring stick you're using, everything but that would be considered failure.
  8. Dec 27, 2009 #7
    No matter who we are and what we do in this short time we're here, the entirety of our lives is insignificant in the vast infinity of the universe. Really all we are is an animal that has the ability to make goals, communicate well, and manipulate our environment. It's because Humans are able to both make goals and communicate information very well to other humans that we are able to make progress in the pursuit of increasing currently available information.

    While humans may be the only animal on Earth right now capable of setting goals, communicating well, and manipulating its environment, it does not mean that humans are necessarily the best possible species, even for what humans specialize in. For example, humans have blind spots which predisposes them to seeing and imagining things that aren't there. Humans simply haven't evolved beyond some of their old biology which was built around being able to hunt well, maneuver well(unlike Neanderthals), being able to outsmart animals, etc.

    Simply put, we humans are not as good as we could be in terms of what we do today because what we do today is based on a "more recent" development in our behavior that is drastically different from what we did for many thousands of years prior to said development.
  9. Dec 27, 2009 #8
    I don't believe you can have success without failure.
  10. Dec 27, 2009 #9


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    Is this collectively or individually. Some folks seem remarkably successful, perhaps not all the time, but most of the time. Others may seem to fail, or at least not succeed, partly because they never attempt.

    Clearly there are very successful people on Wall Street - those who make millions or billions of $. And then there are those who simply fail and lose lots of money, and perhaps never recover what is lost.

    Among the aspects of personality are characteristics such as hubris or arrogance, which would be characteristic of folks like Jimmy Cayne (Bear Stearns CEO), Dick Fuld (Lehman Brothers CEO), Stanley O'Neal (Merrill Lynch CEO) or Vikram Pandit (Citigroup CEO). They seem to have believed they could not fail - and consequently ignored the risk to which their companies were exposed. And there were others.
  11. Dec 27, 2009 #10
    Similar to what Topher said, without failures there would be no successes.

    If a failure pushes me bit closer to my dreams and makes me bit stronger against all the failures coming, would it still be a failure?
  12. Dec 27, 2009 #11
    Will those still be successful people if they are not satisfied by what they have?
  13. Dec 27, 2009 #12
    There is only cause and effect. If the effect is desirable, then we call it a success, and undesirable a failure.

    Since there is too many unknown variables globally, it's impossible to make reliable prediction as to what correct actions to take in order to achieve a desirable effect.

    In situations where there is few unknown variables you could in theory navigate your way around and arrive at success in a logical manner.

    In situations with too many unknown variables - you basically take your life on faith, like a raft drifting in the ocean. You can't really know where it will take you. If you arrive at success, that's because your were lucky, if not, then unlucky.

    In general, a chain of events leading to success or failure will be a combination of these cases, where you make some logical choices, and then drift a little bit in the ocean and wash ashore, and then make logical choices.
  14. Dec 27, 2009 #13


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    I suppose success is relative. It all depends on the standard against which one measures success.

    One could also measure the success or failure based on the number of goals acheived.

    It still comes down to education or knowledge and personality. Can one set realistic goals? Can one persevere until a goal is achieved? Does one put a time limit on the goal? . . . .
  15. Dec 27, 2009 #14
    Here you're defining success in terms of goal achievement.
    Here, though, you've shifted to a different criteria, defining success as how your output falls on a bell curve of popularity. The first criteria is not the same as the second.
  16. Dec 27, 2009 #15
    I think most people don't bother to learn from other peoples' mistakes, to read to see if those mistakes were made before, or to listen for advise to avoid making mistakes.

    I think a lot of people are just hard-headed and want to find out for themselves.

    another good example of the bell-shaped curve...
  17. Dec 27, 2009 #16
    Why not just measure it in a game theoretic sense?
    A person's success can be judged by whether or not s/he receives the expected payoff for a given situation.
  18. Dec 27, 2009 #17
    Using this definition reminds me of the expression that anything you are looking for (ex: car keys) are always in the last place you look. Of course they're in the last place you look because you stop looking once you've found them.

    So, then, using your definition of failing and succeeding, of course it would appear that you fail more than you succeed because once you have succeeded, you stop trying. There would be no need to succeed fifteen times to offset fifteen failures/attempts, now would there?
  19. Dec 28, 2009 #18
    Also you could think of it as heuristic methods tend to consume less resources to arrive at the same outcome of an eventual success.
  20. Dec 28, 2009 #19
    Bingo, true success comes after many failures.
  21. Dec 28, 2009 #20
    What if you succeed the first time? Does the lack of failure then nullify that success?
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