# Use of innovations often precedes understanding

# References

How Innovation Works (p. 55).

Vaccination exemplifies a common feature of innovation: that use often precedes understanding.

How Innovation Works (p. 282).

While this can sometimes happen, it is just as often the case that invention is the parent of science: techniques and processes are developed that work, but the understanding of them comes later. Steam engines led to the understanding of thermodynamics, not the other way round. Powered flight preceded almost all aerodynamics. Animal and plant breeding preceded genetics. Pigeon fancying laid the groundwork for Darwin's understanding of natural selection. Metalworking helped give birth to chemistry. None of the pioneers of vaccination had the foggiest idea how or why it worked. Understanding of the mode of action of antibiotics came long after they were in practical use.