Making Mistakes, an evolutionary advantage?

I was reading this article about the origins of multi-cellular life, and remembered a thought I had a while back.

I was thinking about why we make mistakes. It seems strange, for example, when I’m typing this post out, that I several times hit wrong keys by mistake. Why do I do this? Why don’t I just hit the keys that I intend to hit? Why do I put the wrong ingredient in the cake mix, or call the wrong person, or take a wrong turn? This isn’t for a lack of knowledge or ability. I know that cake recipe, I know the way to work. So why do I turn at the wrong spot, or type the wrong word?

Well imagine if no one ever made mistakes, if every intention was carried out to the maximum physical and mental ability. Then we’d be missing out on a lot of discovery.

When I take that wrong turn, I might be late to work, true. But I also might find a faster route I didn’t know about. Or a cool new restaurant. When I screw up that recipe, I may stumble across something that tastes even better than what I’d planned. Or, I may stumble across a million dollar invention or life-saving medicine. And once that beneficial mistake is make once, then you can do it intentionally from then on out, and spread it to everyone you know.

Could clumsy or stupid mistakes that we make every day be evolution’s way of forcing us to try new things? Even if out of a thousand new things you try, the first 998 are horrible and number 1000 kills you… if number 999 was beneficial, and is remembered and used by the rest of humanity, then that is a net positive as far as evolution is concerned.

So next time you screw something up, and say to yourself ‘what is wrong with me how could I do that??’ stop and think about what you’d be saying if that mistake had turned out better than what you were trying to do…


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