The peppered moth [Một loại bướm ngụy trang rất giỏi] is a night-active species native to temperate climates [Khí hậu ôn hòa]. Before the Industrial Revolution [Cuộc CM Công Nghiệp ở Anh], most peppered moths in northwestern England were light-colored, a trait that helped them camouflage [ngụy trang] themselves on light tree bark. But between 1811 and 1895, the percentage of dark peppered moths rose from 0.01 percent to 98 percent. What happened?

It’s a classic example of Darwin’s theory of the “survival of the fittest.” Pollution from coal mines covered trees in a thick layer of soot. Lighter moths then became easy prey [Con mồi] for predators [ĐV ăn thịt] while their darker counterparts remained hidden – and thrived.

As the American scientist Leon Megginson pointed out, people sometimes confuse “the fittest” with strength or intellect or superior genes. The key, however, is adaptability – adjusting to a changing environment. And that’s the lesson the story of the dark peppered moth teaches us. Society also evolves over time. If you want to thrive in your social environment, you also need to become adaptable. So how do you that?

One great way is by adopting an experimental mind-set. That’s a cycle of making scientific observations, developing hypotheses [Giả thuyết], testing them, analyzing data and formulating new theories. The most successful people and organizations adopt precisely that mind-set. They’re constantly on the lookout for new tools to boost their productivity, well-being and fitness.

Take your health, for example. There’s an overwhelming mass of data out there suggesting that this or that diet [Chế độ ăn uống] is the best thing you can do for your body. Should you go vegan [Ăn chay] or paleo, or is fasting a better option? The only way to find out is to experiment. That’s more than just randomly trying different things, though. It means adopting a rigorous trial-and-error approach, trying different diets one by one and analyzing the results to figure out which works for you.

The same goes for your “intellectual diet.” If you aren’t experimenting with new ideas, you’re probably stuck with old, out-of-date ones. Notions [Khái niệm] change all the time, after all. You were probably taught that an asteroid [Tiểu hành tinh] wiped out the dinosaurs [Khủng long] and that Tyrannosaurus rex were smooth-skinned reptilians [Bò sát]. Well, today, a lot of experts have come to view that theory as outdated, while most paleontologists [Nhà cổ sinh vật học] believe the T. rex was partly covered in feathers! Stick with old ideas, and your thinking will end up just as obsolete [Lỗi thời] as those light-colored moths clinging to sooty trees.