Not the definition of “Insanity”

There is a popular saying that the definition of “insanity” is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. This saying has been variously attributed, including to Einstein.

The problem is that the expression is patently false, otherwise there would be no point in practicing anything. If you were not to do something simply because you did not get the desired results after doing it once, then how would you improve? No, the whole purpose of practice is to do something over and over, each time getting incrementally better (and presumably getting different results), until you get good enough at it to attain the results you want.

In fact, there is no way to do something over and over and not get different results. For example, on The Simpsons, Bart kept trying over and over again to grab a cupcake that Lisa had connect to a battery. She used that as evidence of his being dumber than a hamster, and while continually grabbing at it may not be the best method of getting it, it does give different results: the battery will eventually drain and/or he will eventually gain a tolerance for the shock.

Even doing something that seems to be completely ineffectual like banging your head against the wall is in fact not so; eventually (given enough time), the wall will wear down just like water erodes solid rock over many years.

So ignore the so-called definition of insanity because it is throughly incorrect, lest everyone who ever got good at something by practicing be declared insane.

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