‘’But Where Is The Value?’’ Part 1


This is part 1. Part 2 can be read here.

Where you think the value lies might not be where it is.

There’s an argument made in Against Method by Paul Feyerabend that the scientific method is mostly the post-rationalization of discoveries to give the appearance of some sort of logical, rigorous process.

He argues that science often progresses by ad-hoc postulates that break the rules and that it is impossible to view the progress of science in terms of one set of methodological rules that are always used by scientists like the scientific method.

This view is known as epistemological anarchism.

And you can make that exact argument for founders and entrepreneurs like us.

Any system or formula destroys value in a sense because innovation is built on invention, 0 to 1, not copying, 1 to n. So that 0 to 1 has to be unique by its very definition.

This is why traditional education is so dangerous for entrepreneurs and founders because it teaches you that there’s always a system or formula and that you need to obey and follow it. It rewards the people who’re best at following the system.

There seems to be an element of truth to this inherent messiness even in my ‘hobby field’ of pure mathematics.

If you look at Fermat’s Last Theorem (FLT)

Then you see what an utter clusterfuck it was to prove it.

(In Don’t Drop The Diamond, I used FLT to illustrate my thesis that value creation =/ value capturing. It’s important to create value to the degree where we can capture a subset of it in our field.)

To call it messy would be the equivalent of saying that a Pollock painting is slightly disorganized.

If you wanna see the journey towards proving it, read that essay.

But the TLDR is: A few centuries of failed attacks and promising yet dead-end approaches,

Followed by solutions to specific cases (while kinda neat, pretty useless in proving the general case),

Followed by machine attacks AKA programming computers to prove more specific cases (again, cool but useless in proving infinite cases),

Followed by a super random conjecture (= mathematical hypothesis) in a completely unrelated field of math,

Followed by an idea to prove FLT using that conjecture,

Followed by discovering a mistake that made the proof invalid and by almost sheer luck being able to fix it with an approach that Andrew Wiles previously discarded!

If anyone makes the case that this was in any way structured, I’ll throw them out of a window.

The amount of things that had to go just right is extraordinary.

So often times we discover or invent things and they just happen to be valuable, in a process that’s much more incidental rather than purposefully thought out.

And our need for things to make rational sense hides that truth. As does the purposefully whitewashing of history in order to make the founders of companies appear more visionary.

This is part 1. Part 2 can be read here.

RJ Youngling