When There Are No Exceptions

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1319306 by Nick Albufairas http://www.sxc.hu/profile/nickwijnanFacts are facts, right?

Here’s a fact you may remember from Middle School Biology: the human body has 206 bones.

Except sometimes.

It’s not uncommon to have an extra rib, or an extra bone in the arch of your foot. (Between the two, it could be as high as 20% of the population.) Those people have 207 bones. (Unless you have both an extra rib and one of 3 possible extra bones in your foot.)

Exceptions exist. Even to well-known medical facts.

Let me ask you about another fact: does listening to Mozart make you smarter? Will it make your child smarter?

A study reported in Nature magazine in 1993 said that it does. In 2009 a research showed that 40% of adults believe that playing Mozart for their child will make the child smarter.

The original study has never been reproduced by anyone except the original researchers, and they didn’t repeat it not consistently. Other research has shown zero correlation (and zero causation) between listening to Mozart and getting smarter.

And no study has ever been published about the effects of playing classical music for children to improve their intelligence. (The book The Invisible Gorilla explains in detail the trail of this media circus.)

Some facts have exceptions; many, in fact.

Some “facts” aren’t facts at all.

Which of these facts could you consider taking exception to, or ignoring completely?

  • Traditional publishers provide marketing support for new authors
  • Getting a traditional publishing deal will pay better than self-publishing
  • Self-publishing is hard
  • Self-published books are low quality
  • I can edit my own books
  • Book stores are a good place to sell books
  • Nobody buys paper books anymore; the world has gone digital
  • Giving books away free is a good idea
  • Giving books away free is a bad idea
  • Long books are better
  • Short books are better
  • Writing involves a typewriter, pen, fountain pen, quill pen, or toothpick dipped in blood
  • Writing is lonely
  • Writers are poor
  • Writers are hard-drinking loners
  • You need a nice office to write
  • You need lots of free time to write
  • Nobody buys [insert any genre there is right here] anymore
  • You need an agent to get a publisher
  • You don’t need an agent to get a publisher
  • Kickstarter or IndieGoGo is a good place for an unknown to get paid to write their book
  • Blogging is hard
  • Blogging isn’t important
  • You should always outline
  • You should never outline
  • Plotting destroys creativity
  • Joel has lost his mind

2 thoughts on “When There Are No Exceptions

  1. Hmm! Joel has lost his mind! Something to ponder. Ahem. Listening to 15 minutes of classical music, tends to ease your mind of the everyday uphill battles, you will confront. It relaxes your thinking process, will cause you to slow down, smell the roses around you, and hopefully, see the other side of the world around you. Of course, you don’t want to come to a screeching halt. You do want to finish that story, and get it published.
    Anyway, that’s one of the subjects we studied in grad. school. If it doesn’t work for you, blame my professor. Good read. Blessings.

  2. Well, listening to music we like puts us in the frame of mind to excel.

    Thing is, it increases our smarts by about 1.5%. The claims of the Mozart study were a 9% increase, which would take an average person to near-Mensa level.

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