The Popper Criterion states that the long-term health of any system is based on its ability to remove bad instances from it. In politics for example, people should be able to remove bad leaders through a democratic election. Without this ability, authoritarians like Putin stay in power even if the people want to remove him.
The Popper Criterion is important because it helps us diagnose and fix problems across many domains like politics, media, and business.
Examples of the Popper Criterion
The Popper Criterion applies to all systems where evolutionary thinking is applicable. Aka everything.
In biology we call the Popper Criterion the "survival of the fittest." If an organism isn't fit, it doesn't reproduce. Over the course of four billion years we're left with millions of awesome species that feel designed for their environment. Eyes are a great way to sense the world. Photosynthesis is a great way to access energy from the sun. The list goes on.
Without the Popper Criterion, the world would be full of species that kinda suck. This has occasionally happened in times where there's enough energy to go around and organisms don't need to truly compete for their food. You'd get a bunch of "lazy" organisms. Like a sloth, but in all species. Slow cheetahs, slow gazelles, and short redwoods.
99% of all species on earth are extinct because of the Popper Criterion.
In science we call the Popper Criterion "falsifiability." It's the ability to take a theory, run experiments, and change or disprove the theory based on the data. For example, you might hypothesize that objects fall at 20 m/s². After running a test, that theory gets "removed" and turns into 9.8 m/s².
Science is constantly disproving existing theories. Newton's gravitation was replaced by Einstein's theories of relativity. What we "know" about the world is actually just what hasn't been disproven yet. This is called fallibilism.
In politics we call the Popper Criterion "democratic accountability." People should be able to remove bad leaders through a democratic election. Without this ability, authoritarians like Putin stay in power even if the people want to remove him. But with democratic accountability, governments can remove ineffective or corrupt actors.
We can see the Popper Criterion at play in the famous line: "democracy is the worst form of government, except the rest." We could also use this for science: "relativity is the worst theory, except the rest." Or for biology: "each species is the most inefficient way to survive in that environment, except the rest."