The term "stupid mistake" tends to be embarassing and results in people getting defensive, covering up their mistakes. Thus the term Easy Mistake is used instead.
Unlike the many other kinds of mistake, a easy mistake is one that is:
- Indisputably bad amongst skilled practitioners
- Invisible to the one making the mistake
- Habitual, because it is invisible or ignored by the the practitioner
- Trivial to prevent in future, once revealed. That is, the solution doesn't require excessive talent, money, or effort to remedy.
- In PKM, naming files "Untitled" or "New file", resulting in files getting lost. Easily solved by writing titles that summarise the content, and continuing to update the name over time if needed.
- In chess, making moves that give the opponent significant advantage without gaining any advantage in return. Often easily solved with a blunder trainer.
- In remote work, beginning work only to get distracted for hours doomscrolling. Often easily solved with body doubling or pairing.
- When something breaks in a high stakes environment such as a factory or company, assigning blame or even shaming employees. The alternative is blameless culture.
- In team games, running into battle one player at a time instead of as a unit
- In videogames with item economies, buying game-losing items. An alternative is finding Item Tier Lists, or reading character build guides.
- In videogames like Overwatch, standing next to the game winning objective instead of on it
Easy mistakes are embarrassing
Particularly in team video games, if you are spotted repeatedly performing a mistake, you'll likely be called stupid, told to "stop being stupid" or some variant. This counterintuitively often results in you continuing to repeat the mistake, perhaps because of performance pressure from so many team members now looking at you, or to spite the person who called you stupid.
It's important in rectifying stupid mistakes that they are not personal failings, but the result of chains of events and reactions leading to an outcome. For that outcome to not occur, the chain of events and reactions must change
Some people refuse to do drills that could improve their easy mistakes because they believe the drills will make them look foolish. One coach solves this by making students foolish on purpose, citing that looking foolish in front of the team is better than looking foolish at a competition
Fixing easy mistakes improves skill dramatically
Easy mistakes are frequent amongst all skill practitioners, usually even up to 90th percentile. Thus, identifying and fixing stupid mistakes is among the simplest and most important methods for becoming top percentile. Some examples of rapid skill ascent from fixing easy mistakes:
- In chess, using a blunder trainer can typically improve ELO by a few hundred in a few months
- In Brotato, identifying my game-losing item choices took me from frustratedly losing Danger 5 to winning easily.
- In DotA 2, switching from moving as an independent player to one only in formation with other players took me from 50% win rate to winning next twenty games in a row, easily.
Further reading of stupid mistakes
Dan Luu has written about them extensively in 95% isn't that good
Psyche.co considered the base reason for stupid mistakes: Why some of the smartest people can be so very stupid
95%-ile isn't that good
Dan Luu ‧ 2020 February ‧ danluu.com ↩︎