We’re back with another episode of Upzoned, a new podcast from Strong Towns! Sometimes, a hot new story will cross our desks that we need to talk about right away. That's where Upzoned comes in. Join Kea Wilson, Chuck Marohn, and occasional surprise guests to talk in depth about just one big story from the week in the Strong Towns conversation, right when you want it: now.
Failure is an essential part of the scientific method—negative results help us rule out erroneous theories and hone our understanding. And the value of an instructive failure is not limited to laboratory science. In all human endeavors, including city building, our missteps give us vital information that helps us do our work better next time around.
On this week’s Upzoned, Kea and Chuck discuss the New York Times article Congratulations. Your Study Went Nowhere. The article deals with the phenomenon of publication bias in science: studies yielding negative results are less likely to be published and widely disseminated than those that appear to confirm their hypotheses, and this tendency can lead to bad science. Kea and Chuck take this and run with it, carrying on a broad philosophical conversation about why humans in all disciplines could stand to celebrate their failures instead of shying away from them.
Confirmation bias is a powerful thing: we, as a species, are very good at rationalizing things when we want them to be true. And we’ve built a whole self-help industry around the notion that the path to success is to figure out what you want, make a concrete plan, and then go out and get it. Chuck sides with those who see it a little differently: acknowledging the messiness of the best-laid plans, the essential role of dumb luck in all of our endeavors, and the need to adjust based on feedback as we go along.
Then, in the downzone, Chuck gets a little weepy about seeing Hamilton with his family, and Kea discusses the Flint water crisis as it's portrayed in Michael Moore's new documentary, Farenheit 11/9.