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Silicon Valley runs on failure. Its unofficial motto, after all, is “Fail fast, fail often,” and it is the region that gave birth to FailCon, where stories of entrepreneurial failure are badges of honor.

That’s more than just cute marketing. As the New Yorker’s James Surowiecki has written, “In the delusions of entrepreneurs are the seeds of technological progress.” Failures, in other words, are not only acceptable, but beneficial.


Scientists would do well to take that message to heart. For proof, look no further than a recent study that suggests researchers, with the help of computer algorithms, can find nuggets of scientific insight in the failed experiments that gather dust in forgotten lab notebooks.

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