Performance Perspectives Blog

Being willing to be different and the need to challenge / confirm conventional wisdom

by | Aug 1, 2013

In this month’s TSG newsletter, I wrote a bit about the high jumper Dick Fosbury, who introduced an entirely different way to scale the bar. I vividly recall watching the meet on television in which this was first publicized. Many laughed (including the announcers) at what he was doing, as it was so different. But today, if you watch this event at any major tournament, you’ll see that Fosbury’s Flop is pretty much the standard approach.

This, to me, raises questions about our acceptance of methods that have been around for a long time. I won’t go into any detail here, as I’ve opined several times in the past on it.

We also must confirm ideas that have been generally accepted. I am nearing the completion of my doctoral dissertation, and hope to defend it shortly. It addresses aspects of transaction and holdings-based attribution, and some of my hypotheses may appear trivial, given that everyone knows this. But, to “know” and to have “proven” are two different things. We often accept things as being factual, even though there has never been any proof behind them. Just about everyone knows that if you drop a penny off the top of the Empire State Building in New York City and it hits someone on the head, they’ll die … but, it’s not true! In my role as a “researcher,” I cannot accept things that are generally believed; I must demonstrate empirically that they’re valid. But, these are only a couple of the several hypotheses that are included, and only provide some fundamental grounding from which the others can be developed.

I don’t know yet whether we’ll publish the dissertation; perhaps a limited number of copies, for those who think they’d find it of interest. For me, it’s been a long struggle, but an educational and enjoyable one. It’s the journey, right, that’s supposed to be enjoyable, not necessarily the destination?

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