Galileo*, Turing, Einstein, Servetus, and the list goes on.
If “failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor”, then an important question that needs to be asked before we choose up sides for the softball team: Who decides? Politicians in particular have a stunningly bad track record for picking winners and failures.
Should the MGM execs kill off Mickey Mouse in 1927, or allow Walt a chance to fail?
The Michelson-Morley experiment was a failure that changed the scientific world (and for which Michelson won a Nobel—for a null result!). Scientists as a whole view failure a bit differently from the rest of us; it’s often the failed experiments that lead to the next big steps ahead, that teach us the most.
There’s some inspiration to be drawn from historical failures, and sometimes even the close calls—so they can make a good backdrop thesis for those stirring inspirational speeches. Or a solid chapter for any book, I suppose.
*Yes, I know it’s not entirely as black and white in Galileo’s case as my 8th grade science teacher led us to believe. But now both the rationalists and the Church have plenty of apologists busily re-writing BlogHistory… Will history have any clear-cut bad guys left in another hundred years?
“Grand Moff Tarkin? Aw, he wasn’t so bad, he just had a mean old Darth breathing down his neck.”