Fixed habits of thinking

(Alexander Bell)’s primary investor (Gardiner Hubbard) was initially skeptical of Bell’s work on the telephone. It “could never be more than a scientific toy,” Hubbard told him. The initial inability of Hubbard, and everyone else to recognize the promise of the telephone represents a patter that recurs with a frequency embarrassing to the human race. “All knowledge and habit once acquired,” wrote Joseph Schumpeter, the great innovation theorist, “becomes as firmly rooted in ourselves as a railway embankment in the earth.” Schumpeter believed that our minds were, essentially, too lazy to seek out new lines of thought when old ones could serve. “The very nature of fixed habits of thinking, their energy-saving function, is founded upon the fact that they have become subconscious, that they yield their results automatically and are proof against criticism and even against contraction by individual facts.”

Tim Wu, The Master Switch