Halo Effect: Travel Theorem – enjoyment or learning

This is a part of quotes and thoughts that attracted my attention, while reading the “The Halo Effect …and the Eight Other Business Delusions that Deceive Managers” by Phil Rosenzweig.

pages xxii-xxiii:

…I want you to challenge what I write rather than accept it. One of my role models here is the late Herbert Simon, father of artificial intelligence, Nobel Prize winner in economics for his work on decision making, and professor at Carnegie Mellon University from the late 1940s until his death in 2001. In his memoirs, Models of My Life, Simon described how his service on several foreign fact-finding missions in the 1960s, often time-consuming and very costly, led him to formulate his Travel Theorem, which goes like this:

Anything that can be learned by a normal American adult on a trip to a foreign country (of less than one year’s duration) can be learned more quickly, cheaply, and easily by visiting the San Diego Public Library.

The response? Simon wrote: “People react almost violently to my Travel Theorem. I try to explain that it has nothing to do with the pleasures of travel, but only with the efficiency of travel for learning. They don’t seem to hear my explanation; they remain outraged. They point out that I seem to be traveling all the time. Why shouldn’t other people travel too? After they simmer down enough to understand the theorem, they still attack шею It takes a long time to calm their passion with reason – and usually it isn’t extinguished, but temporarily subdued. Why, they think, argue with a madman?”

Well, I think Travel Theorem is wonderful – not because I agree with it, but because it makes me think. It forces me to ask: What is the real purpose of this trip? Is it for enjoyment or for learning? If the latter, exactly what am I trying to learn, and what’s the best way to learn it? Could my time and money be better spent searching available sources rather than running off to the ends of the earth? Disagree with Simon’s Travel Theorem if you wish, but that’s not the point. The point is to force us to ask under what circumstances it’s correct and when it’s false – and that sort of critical thinking is always useful.

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