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Critical Thinking

Challenging Conventional Wisdom: Slow and Steady Wins The Race

We, and I mean most of us who are over the age of 20, have heard (or come across) those little nuggets of seemingly priceless knowledge that promise to guide us towards life-changing epiphanies. Usually, they are offered to us as valuable lessons by someone who cares enough about us (at least at the time) to take the time to help us cope with life’s riddles. And they may very well be what most of us need at certain times, but if we are critically honest – a condition I still fail to entertain during much of my waking time but continue to strive for – we see that they are not very good advice on their own.

Take this piece, for example, and examine it objectively for the sake of that same critical honesty I mentioned just a few lines ago: “Slow and steady wins the race.” Really? And of course this is true in contrast to, perhaps, fast and steady?

Despite the perplexing content of the aphorism the fable from which is taken does offer enough context to make it a better lesson, though it remains devoid of actual wisdom. This time-old tale talks about a hare that, while being fast and athletic loses a footrace to a determined tortoise. The little turtle in this story is committed to finishing the race, and the hare decides that it (because it is evidently faster than its opponent) could take breaks at different times. This arrogance causes the hare to fall asleep during one of its rest periods allowing the steady turtle to overtake him on the path and ultimately win the race. This sounds good: don’t be an arrogant clown, finish your work, be diligent about the things that are important at the time. Even the importance of finishing what you start may be taken from this story, but the assertion that a slow steady pace may win you the race isn’t based on actual logic.

Again, this adage doesn’t stand up to critical arguments. It proposes something that aside from being untrue, threatens to hinder success. I explain it in better detail in this video… watch it and let me know what you think.

Take care.

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Weekly Science Quotes

"Science knows no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity, and is the torch which illuminates the world. Science is the highest personification of the nation because that nation will remain the first which carries the furthest the works of thought and intelligence."

Louis Pasteur

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"Science is a way of life. Science is a perspective. Science is the process that takes us from confusion to understanding in a manner that's precise, predictive and reliable - a transformation, for those lucky enough to experience it, that is empowering and emotional."

Brian Greene

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