As The Crow Flies

Developing a strategy for a company is challenging without clear sight of our target. We don’t know if what we’re aiming for is right or wrong and it’s nearly impossible anticipating all the possible contingencies. Are we focused on the right things? Do we have everything in place? Are we positioned to succeed? What is our backup plan? These are questions we need to be asking ourselves, and many more. If we fail to answer our questions with certainty, we will always be aiming at a moving target.

We need a strategy with a straight line of sight (as the crow flies) to make sure we hit the target. If “fake it ’til you make it” is your motto, then you’ll be sure to have a long winding road ahead.

Developing a strategy is similar to cooking a meal. When we understand what the outcome needs to be, we tend to take a different approach to reach our goal. It works the same way we prepare a meal. We flip the package over or follow a recipe and read the directions. Step 1… Step 2… at 375° for 40 minutes.

We carefully follow directions and gather together the ingredients, how we need to mix them, when to mix them, at what temperature, and for how long. We clearly identify what we need to do. But, sometimes the directions are not always clear. Other times we think they are, but are they? Understanding how to do something is one thing, understanding (why) we do something is entirely different.

Did you know crows are often identified as clever tricksters?

Wrong Diagnosis

Discover how creating systems help minimize common mistakes in the workplace.

Oregon Research Institute completed a study of doctors asking a group of radiologists at the University of Oregon: How do you decide if a person has cancer from a stomach X-ray? The doctors explained there were seven major signs. The Oregon Researchers then asked the doctors to judge the probability of cancer in ninety-six different individual stomach ulcers.

Without telling the doctors what the researchers were up to, they showed the doctors each ulcer twice, mixing up the duplicates randomly in the pile so the doctors wouldn’t notice they were being asked to diagnose the exact same ulcer they had already diagnosed.

Surprisingly, the doctors’ diagnoses were all over the map: The experts didn’t agree with each other. Even more surprisingly, when presented with duplicates of the same ulcer, every doctor had contradicted himself and rendered more than one diagnosis: These doctors apparently could not even agree with themselves.

You could beat the doctor by replacing him with an equation created by people who knew nothing about medicine and had simply asked a few questions of doctors.

In fact, I was able to identify a wrong diagnosis myself, perhaps you had a similar experience. The only difference may lie in how we arrived at knowing the diagnosis was wrong. Having a gut feeling is one thing, but knowing with certainty is something else. There is no evidence to support a gut instinct. Read my story about how I systematically analyzed information to identify the correct diagnosis.

The above is a slightly edited excerpt from: Michael Lewis. “The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds.” Long story short, the system ensures the result.

Let’s take a look at another real-life example.

Which is more important, the system or individual? Watch the 40 second video.

In this case, algorithms ensured the result because humans often make mistakes or become easily distracted. In only 8 seconds the video demonstrates how an algorithm can prevent common mistakes in human judgement. Tesla’s Autopilot 2.0 System warns of a wreck before it occurred and immediately alerted the driver while stopping the vehicle.

INTJ vs Doctor

I challenged a doctors diagnosis back in April based on my research. I was certain the doctor was wrong. He said something about the reliability of information found online.

You have to be careful what you read online, he said.

He told me people come in all the time citing something they read online. In the same way you might hear your customers talking about what they read online. He told me, “I’ve been doing this for 37 years.” I thought to myself, that sounds familiar.

Later, on the second visit, the doctor surprisingly changed his mind. He asked, “How were you sure about the diagnosis?” I sensed he was puzzled by my findings. I downplayed it by saying, I know how to decipher data. In this case, I had to decipher bad medical advice from good medical advice in the same way I parse any information.

It came down to being able to identify inconsistencies within the information. It can be spoken words, written words, photos, etc. The analysis works at a level of deductive logic by asking, “is this even possible?” This sort of thing happens all the time, nearly every day, in all aspects of life. My choice is one of two things, 1) speak up when something is wrong or 2) say nothing and allow the “told you so” to occur on its own without saying it.

You could beat the doctor by replacing him with an equation created by people who knew nothing about medicine and had simply asked a few questions of doctors. — The Undoing Project

Typically I go with the second option, but this was a health issue. My motive lies squarely on the prevention of something. In this case, I was trying to prevent a second visit to the doctor because “efficiency.” Part of the process I go through analyzing something is to prevent something from occurring, or existing, or the need to exist. My second doctors visit didn’t need to occur.

Time for Change

We all know someone who consistently goes through the same problems over and over. It could be jobs or relationships, some people go through relationships like painters go through painters pants.

We try to help these repeat offenders by making suggestions when they come to us with a series of why statements wondering what they are doing wrong. And while we know they can hear us talking, they fail to take the necessary actions to change, and you guessed it, they make the same mistakes all over again. These individuals have no control over their lives. None.

People like that think they have life figured out, and their lies the problem. In order to correct a problem, we need to first recognize the problem. We are historically bad at identifying our own problems. This is why repeat offenders fail. They fail to take the time to identify the problem and to make necessary changes to correct it.

Those who have not identified their mistakes of the past and destined to repeat them.

As for the bystanders, the helpers, the ones who often know others better than they know themselves, there is only so much we can do to help them aside from grabbing them by the neck and showing them whats best for them, and they still resist change.

The Solution:

Trust in others close to you to help you identify the problem and listen to what they tell you. Pay close attention. You are not going to want to hear that what you’ve been doing your whole life is wrong, trust me, you will resist. The key to fixing the problem is “undoing” whatever is causing the problem. The solution will always require change.

Cart Before Horse

If the goal is to make less mistakes, then we ought to first understand how we make mistakes. Because if we don’t understand how we make mistakes, we will continue making the same mistakes, even worse, not know until it’s too late.

Before you read another book, or read the Bible, or make another decision, or voice an opinion on social media — you ought to consider reading The Undoing Project. If you do not have time to read the entire book, I suggest reading Chapter 6 The Mind’s Rules and you will quickly realize the importance of reading the rest of the book.

The point remains that people do not follow the correct rule, when left to their own devices.
— The Undoing Project

Last I checked, The Bible explains why the above quote happens, but I’ll leave that for another post.

There are two errors when it comes to understanding how we make judgments and decisions. One is to believe we understand how our mind works. The other is to believe we understand, and to not feel a need to question what we believe. Considering we use our minds everyday, we ought to understand how the mind works. It should come before anything else. We need to be careful we are not putting the cart before the horse.

The Internet is the most insidious source of bullshit and misinformation in human history. The book captures nicely how we deceive ourselves without knowing through the mysteries of the mind.

Following is an example of something I took away from the book.

What happened to Jane was serious. Jane committed to a biblical worldview in which Jane’s interpretation of the Bible made sense, and that afternoon Jane saw the appeal of another worldview in which Jane’s interpretation of the Bible looked silly. Jane wonders how she could have made such a silly mistake.

Something can make perfect sense to Jane, at the same time, be completely wrong. Everything we do and believe can be traced back to one thing, how we think.

Evil Spirits

Evil spirits do not exist.

Fact or Opinion?

Should a reader believe the assertion evil spirits do not exist, only a single correct reference need provided for proof —I’ll wait.

Jesus Explains the Return of an Unclean Spirit

43 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.” — Matthew 12:43

Source image: By Onenna59 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Time Stands Still

Understanding anything requires time, analysis, and attention to detail.  We need to pause life to gain a better understanding of things around us. The camera serves as a useful study tool, it allows time to stand still so we can see what is truly going on.

Let’s say, for example, we were one of many people who saw a multi-car accident and each of us questioned as a witness about what happened. Each of us may give similar stories with varying details. Some of us will be vague in our recollection. Some of us will be very confident and detailed about what happened. But can we trust our perception? Can we trust our memory? Well, they say eye-witness accounts are lousy.

I saw it with my own two eyes.

According to a report by the Innocence Project, since the 1990s, when DNA testing was first introduced, Innocence Project researchers reported 73 percent of the 239 convictions overturned through DNA testing were based on eyewitness testimony. Elizabeth F. Loftus of the University of California, Irvine, memory researcher and psychologists describes memory recollection as “more akin to putting puzzle pieces together than retrieving a video recording.”

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.
— Henry David Thoreau

A photo or video contains details better than our mind can recall. A photo is a record of time. We can study photos for details or clues. I rely heavily on taking photos at work. I learned not to trust my memory to recall every detail. I often find myself gaining a new understanding each time I study the same photo over a course of time. I can study a photo today and one year from now, see something completely different. A picture is worth a thousand words.

Bullshit Principle

How long does fact checking take?

a) few minutes
b) few hours
c) few days
d) none of the above

If a single thing about painting takes months to validate, then I wonder how others fact check information on bigger science topics. I’ve always performed an analysis myself when it comes to painting, which is why I almost always discover things contrary to mainstream opinionated beliefs.

“Most researchers who have tried to engage online with ill-informed journalists or pseudoscientists will be familiar with Brandolini’s law (also known as the Bullshit Asymmetry Principle): the amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than that needed to produce it.” Phil Williamson

“Surveys show that the public will simply disagree with scientists when the science conflicts with their ideological beliefs.” Steven Novella, MD., Clinical Neurologist

We don’t appreciate your logic or rational views, they are not inline with our reassuring lies.

An idea being widely accepted or popular does not make it scientific. Being scientifically studied and supported makes it scientific. That’s the great thing about science, it doesn’t care about opinion, something is either true or it isn’t and opinions have no affect on that.

The harsh reality is that most people will not put in the time to check anything, confirmation bias will always suffice. Would you bother reading another 1,400 words to understand the problem before making a single attempt to fact check it?

Not the truth which is at the disposal of every man, but the honest pains he has taken to come at the truth make the worth of a man.
— Lessing

I would suggest, people who are not willing to put in the necessary work, maybe not talk about things as fact until they fully understand the topic. People want to be experts on everything these days, yet rarely anyone wants to put in the work.