[FOUNTAIN]When will they ever learn?

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[FOUNTAIN]When will they ever learn?

If you repeat a task frequently, you get used to it and become skillful at it no matter what the task. 19th century German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus developed a scientific theory from seemingly obvious conventional wisdom. He pioneered the learning curve effect, which states that “the more times a task has been performed, the less time will be required on each subsequent iteration.” The theory was verified in 1936 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in the United States. Research showed that every time aircraft production doubled, the required labor hours needed decreased by 10 to 15 percent.
The experience curve expanded the scope of the learning curve effect. The more experience you have on the same task, the less cost, as well as labor hours, required. According to research conducted by the Boston Consulting Group in the 1970s, every time cumulative units of production doubled, the cost decreased by 10 to 25 percent.
The learning effect is a more simplified concept, with the “curve” dropped from the learning curve effect. As the learning effect has become a popular term, it has the stronger connotation of not repeating the same mistakes through past experience, rather than increasing efficiency through repetition.
Despite Pyongyang’s announcement regarding the nuclear tests, the domestic financial market has regained stability faster than expected, and securities experts credit the learning effect as one of the factors for the timely recovery.
In the U.S. stock market, the S&P index has shot up by 57 percent in three years since the September 11 attacks in 2001 and soared by more than 81 percent in the three years after the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. We learned that no matter how devastating a shock might be, the market rebounds as time goes by, so past experiences prevented rash stock sales and a market panic.
However, some critics point out that the nuclear crisis is different in nature from the September 11 terror attacks and the attack on Pearl Harbor because it could fundamentally alter the fate of the Korean Peninsula. They argue the stability of the market is not due to the learning effect, but because we have grown desensitized to crises following repeated threats by Pyongyang. The learning effect doesn’t seem to work when it comes to the North Korean policy of the Roh Moo-hyun administration. Despite repeated failures after generously offering aid to North Korea, it is not willing to rectify the mistakes. Considering they are repeatedly committing the same, obvious faults for so long, their “learning abilities” are in question.


by Kim Jong-soo

The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
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