The Lindy Effect

By: Health Centered Medical | A Knee, Back & Joint Pain Clinic

There is something fascinating about old knowledge.  In today’s culture there is tremendous value for what is brand new.  Like the newest iPhone, there is an unspoken assumption that the newest thing must be the best.    

However, there is a concept that was created by bestselling author Nassim Nicholas Taleb called the Lindy Effect.  He describes the Lindy Effect as “one of the most useful, robust, and universal heuristics I know.” His essay “An Expert Called Lindy” describes the idea this way, regarding Manhattan’s famous Lindy Diner.

“Actors who hung out there gossiping about other actors discovered that Broadway shows that lasted, say one hundred days, had a future life expectancy of a hundred more. For those that lasted two hundred days, two hundred more.”

In other words, the Lindy Effect means the longer something has been around, the more value it has and the longer it is likely to last into the future – the opposite of the “newer is better” mantra.  A powerful judge of value it turns out, is time.  Understanding the Lindy Effect may demonstrate that chiropractic’s future is brighter even than we thought.  Various publications describe historical accounts of skilled workers’ manual correction of the spine to improve health. An article in the authoritative journal Spine in 1996 describes texts from as long as 5500 years ago that contain references to what would be considered early versions of chiropractic:

“(Manual forces) to correct spinal deformity is a very old concept. The oldest reference available is in ancient Hindu mythological epics (written between 3500 BC and 1800 BC).”

Millions of people over thousands of years have tried to solve the riddle of how to live, and to best unleash their health, for themselves, their families, and their communities.  Because of their efforts there is a lot that can be learned from the past and what was so painstakingly worked on to bring us to where we are today.  A recently translated Indian text from the 8th Century AD had a fascinating note about the successful health care relationship.  This text, only translated into English 80 years ago, stated:

“Physician, remedy, nurse, and patient are the four factors and in therapy four qualities are attributed to each of them.  The physician must be skilful, must have received his science from a most worthy teacher, must have had practical experience and be honest… and the patient must be wealthy, devoted to the physician, communicative, and of good character.” 

Fascinating to hear what these people, working to survive and thrive centuries ago, felt was most important to succeeding with good health care.  While not everything applies perfectly today, the nature of hard work and commitment to good health is still the same hundreds of years later. 

  3. JAMA.  1938; 110(6); 463.  Hilgenberg et al.