Worship the anomaly

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Definitions for anomaly include

  • something that deviates from the norm or from expectations
  • something strange and difficult to identify or classify
  • a deviation from the common rule
  • an irregularity that is difficult to explain using existing rules or theory

Theories, societies, and people have a hard time dealing with anomalies, and so the natural tendency is to make them fit existing norms [or expectations -- or alternatively to try to make them disappear. In many cases it's the anomalies that are the most interesting: the data points that show the limitations of a current theory, the interdisciplinary works that combine different viewpoints, the people with radically different outlooks on the world.

Anomalies are frequently to be intersection points in the network-of-networks. And anomalies tend to attract or discover other anomalies; so they're frequently hubs and linked to other hubs. Scott Page's book The Difference explores how groups with diverse cognitive "toolboxes" (techniques, perspectives and experiences) outperform individuals -- even experts. (A thread on Liminal States gives some examples.) Anomalies provide additional toolboxes to any group, and so as long as the group accepts them and everybody works to overcome communication gaps, contribute disproportionately to better results... and transformational change.

Don't fear the anomaly.

Worship her.