Is “Insanity” Really Repeatedly Trying Something That Doesn’t Work?

I don’t believe that, at all. Nor, by the way, did Einstein say it.

This year I’ve planted some cilantro (it’s already gone) and yesterday I tried 3 raspberry bushes.

It just looks like an unexciting stick in the ground, among many other unexciting sticks. But this is a stick with potential to provide me with makings for jam.

More likely, if it survives that long, it will provide some deer with yummy berries.

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Insanity Quote: It would sure be fun to float a meme that that quote was actually from John Maynard Keynes (Milton’s brother) in reference to supply-side economics.


  1. says

    Is “Insanity” Really Repeatedly Trying Something That Doesn’t Work?

    It depends on the reason why something didn’t work. If it’s some random unlucky coincidence, you might as well try again and do the same thing once more. For example, you plant something, but then you get usually bad weather right afterwards and it causes your plants to die. Then it makes sense to just try again and hope that it works next time.

    Often it also makes sense to try again but with some minor modifications. For example, you plant an apple tree and it dies. You can try planting a different apple cultivar the next time. Plant cultivars vary in their cold tolerance, resistance to pests and diseases and many other factors.

    Unfortunately, sometimes repeatedly trying something that doesn’t work really is pointless. I’d say that if your plants get eaten by deer, then it’s one of these situations. Of course, you can also look on the bright side—Baron D’Elk is going to be very happy about the snacks.

  2. jazzlet says

    Rasberries need some support. You could design your support so it also provided protection. I’ve had a couple of dogs who’ve eaten the raspberries off the lower branches of our canes. At the time we had so many raspberries (8lbs every couple of days) that I didn’t mind, especially as seeing the delicate way they removed the raspberries while avoiding the thorns always amused.

  3. jrkrideau says

    I would have thought that something with wicked 10cm thorns would have been more suitable.

    I assume you have a leather apron and gloves for working around the forge so you are equipped to harvest the thorny berries.

    Re cilantro: Have you considered a few posts and chicken wire? Excess coriander can be let outside as a treat for the deer.

    Re Insanity Quote, I don’t see why you could not attribute it to JMK. You can explain that it was a misattribution to Einstein and that you discovered the real source. It certainly would be appropriate.

  4. says

    “Thornless” raspberries?

    Go GMO or Go Home?
    Seriously, the deer eat the thorns and all. I guess if the bushes survive I can build an enclosure. They don’t negotitate!

  5. Reginald Selkirk says

    My experience with raspberries is that mosquitoes love to hang out in the raspberry patch. I recommend long sleeves while harvesting.

    Raspberries patches are famous for spreading. The roots will send out new suckers, and if the tips bend over so that they reach the ground, they will root and start a new plant.

  6. says

    Reginald Selkirk@#8:
    Raspberries patches are famous for spreading.

    That’s partly why I keep planting them there – it’s right at a spot where the wind usually blows snow over my driveway. Wrong season, I know, but anything I can get along there to change the wind patterns might help. I suppose I could plant some kind of normal hedge.

    We don’t have much in the way of mosquitoes up here. I’ve been told variously it’s because there isn’t a lot of standing water and all the ponds have salamanders and frogs and such, or that there’s such high winds that they don’t get along. But it’s true – lots of ticks but hardly any mosquitoes.

  7. says

    Rasberries need some support. You could design your support so it also provided protection.

    Wait, you mean just positive affirmation won’t do it?
    If they appear to be taking off, I’ll put up something to protect them from the deer and the wind.

  8. Sunday Afternoon says

    Re: insanity and repeating things:

    When doing my PhD, reading the literature on the subject didn’t appear to work, ie: I didn’t understand and this lead sometimes to feelings of inadequacy and despair. If I had given up after even the 6th or 7th read with no accompanying feeling of accomplishment, I would never have gotten there. That’s not to say I was reading in a vacuum, but some of my progress in understanding was frustratingly and painfully and memorably minimal.

    (Aside: it turns out that this was good preparation for coding…)

  9. kestrel says

    About your quote: I work with animals every day and I learned about this from Ray Hunt. Despite how people tend to look down on them, they are actually fairly clever. Yet I’ve seen humans do the same stupid thing over and over (and over and over and over and over) and even say it out loud: “I’ve been beating that dog with a newspaper every time he craps on the floor for three years, and he still craps on the floor!” when even one of my chickens would have figured out to change tactics by now. If you are trying to get an animal to do something and what you are doing does not work, well, you are going to have to change in order to get different results. The animals won’t magically start behaving differently just because you want them to. :-D

    As I said I first heard about this idea from the horseman Ray Hunt. He would point out that if you just talk to humans, they will all blame the horse: “Oh yes, my uncle had one just like that, you have to just keep beating them” when no one would ever consider the side of the horse and how they might feel about it, or how they might change to make it better for the horse. And yet, considering the side of the horse is the actual way forward to change and understanding. Ray always advocated finding out what the horse had to say instead and really had no use for humans and their repeated stupid behavior towards horses. Let me just say that is an incredibly effective way towards understanding and working with horses.

    As for your raspberries, good luck! I am trying them and this is my second year. In my case it is millions of grasshoppers causing the issues.

  10. suttkus says

    The quote actually comes from a Narcotics Anonymous book, or at least that’s the earliest anyone can trace it in print. Like most good quotes, it’s been attributed to every possible person famous for being smart, Mark Twain, Gandhi, Confucius.

  11. says

    I thought the quote was, insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Never ran into the “doesn’t work” version, myself. Interesting how these maxims can mutate as they spread. And no, I’m not making any claim as to which version is the ‘original’ version, if either one; either way, there’s definitely been some mutation in the maxim, yes?

  12. jrkrideau says

    @ Markus
    To follow up on the Milton Keynes quote

    As Friedrich Nietzsche said, “That which doesn’t destroy you leaves you weakened and more susceptible to the next thing to come along.”

  13. says

    As Friedrich Nietzsche said, “That which doesn’t destroy you leaves you weakened and more susceptible to the next thing to come along.”

    I think it was his brother Al who said that. Al didn’t get as much air-play as Fred.

  14. dangerousbeans says

    Is “Insanity” Really Repeatedly Trying Something That Doesn’t Work?

    i keep trying to not be insane, and it doesn’t work, so… :P

  15. Raucous Indignation says

    Don’t cross the streams. Don’t cross the streams. Not beams. Streams.

  16. says

    More likely, if it survives that long, it will provide some deer with yummy berries.

    Las year the deer didn’t wait for the blackberries to even show up before it ate the twigs and leaves.


    Raspberries patches are famous for spreading.

    Yep. I have the feeling that my grandpa’s raspberries will survive for longer than my grandpa’s house despite my mum’s attempts to keep the latter and get rid of the former.
    So if you want a legacy, forget trees, plant raspberries.

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