Limits of Empirical Method LO5894

Richard Karash (
Wed, 28 Feb 1996 22:28:34 -0500 (EST)

Replying to LO5875 --

On Tue, 27 Feb 1996 wrote:
> There will never be empirical support for a transformation.
> The Wright brothers couldn't point to any data on heavier-than-air flight
> -- they simply had to work towards certain principles.

OK, now all the pilots will come out of the woodwork...

I agree with the thrust of Ron's comments, but I think the real power is
in a combination of genuine creativity along with a good dose of what Ron
is calling the "Empirical method." And, I would side with Ron in the view
that in our present business culture, people are looking too much for data
before they will act. I see people acting as though "If you don't have
data, then you don't know anything." (Or at least they seem to posture
this, then go ahead and act without any data.)

Now, for the Wright Brothers: When I studied flying in some depth, I was
very impressed to learn, 1) there was a published book on Aerodynamics
well before the Wright brothers; it contained *measurements* and results
of the hundreds of flying experiments, and the Wright brothers studied it
intensively. 2) The Wright brothers themselves did numerous experiments,
include several gliders and many maned glider flights. 3) From these, they
learned that the key problem was control, especially roll control, and
they invented the method of warping the wings to make a simple aileron
which made manned powered flight possible.

That is, the Wright brothers didn't just jump off a cliff based on a
dream; it was a dream, several inventions, and a lot of detailed study of
real empirical experience.


Richard Karash ("Rick") | <> Speaker, Facilitator, Trainer | email: "Towards learning organizations" | Host for Learning-Org Mailing List (617)227-0106, fax (617)523-3839 | <>

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