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The Naskapi and the Caribou

Stumbled on Ron Burt's notes (PDF) (he of Structural Holes fame) and found this, which I liked:

"The Naskapi Indians of Labrador survive primarily by hunting. Each morning the adult males gather to ask: "Where should we hunt today?". An unusual procedure is used to answer the question. The men take the shoulder bone of a caribou, hold it over a fire until the bone cracks, and then hunt in whichever direction the crack points. The procedure works. The Naskapi almost always find game, which is rare among hunting bands"
Now, to be fair, I don't know whether or not Labrador is chock-a-block full of game. If it is, then this would explain the Naskapi's unprecedented success (and take the rug out from underneath the quote!). I suspect not. Either way the point holds: in a hunt for ideas, structured, thought-through approaches don't necessarily outperform wherever the wind blows (or bone cracks) faith.

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Comments

Ah, but only if the land is full of game! This is, I suppose, about asking the right questions.

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