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Sunday, November 13, 2005

Charles Darwin

As far as I'm concerned, Charles Darwin is famous for three things.
  1. Putting huge amounts of observations together to demonstrate the existence of "gradualism" in natural history as opposed to the dominant thinking of rapid creation (catastrophism).
  2. Expressing a theory to explain gradualism and the observed change over time of complex living things.
  3. Being a master of making huge amounts of observations, organizing those observations, and applying the scientific method to those observations in combination with the set of known observations in the world (such as Lyell's evidence for gradual changes in geology).
Most people know about #1 and #2 and "Intelligent Design" non-scientists confuse #1 and #2 (in reality, Darwin's theory explaining evolution has undergone many improvements based on additional observations made in the last 100+ years including the startling discovery of symbiosis which is so well explained in Darwin's Blind Spot, and punctuated equalibrium over gradualism). But I'm mostly impressed by #3 because it is the foundation on which Western Civilization rests. Warren Buffett does the same thing for investing that Charles Darwin did for science: brilliantly and relentlessly applying the principles to achieve unprecedented greatness.

More than anything else, the success of Buffett and Darwin are examples of the power of rigorously and relentlessly applying rationality and the scientific method.

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