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Monday, 03 October 2016 15:00

On the Use of the Serendipitous Phenomena

Written by Shigekazu Sawaizumi

Does chance favour the mind prepared for the unexpected? And might this lead to more creative solutions?


The aim of this article is to investigate the mechanism of serendipitous discoveries and to develop a training method to use it. H. Walpole coined the term ‘serendipity’ and indicated that the two factors of accidents and sagacity are essential in discoveries. R. K. Merton pointed out the importance of serendipity for the progress of sciences (Merton & Barber, 2004). In this paper, we analyze the mechanism of serendipitous discoveries in terms of accidents and sagacity according to the theories of S. Kuki and C. S. Peirce, respectively. Finally, we propose a training method for serendipity using ‘serendipity cards’ that are externalized subject matter on to cards with hypotheses and results with one case study. We can compose hypotheses effectively using the concepts of ‘seeing as’ and ‘seeing that’, as proposed by N R Hanson (Hanson, 1969).

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Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.

John Steinbeck

I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I'm frightened of the old ones.

John Cage


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