In life, you don’t get instant replay
Over the weekend the World Series in baseball was going on. Perhaps some of you saw it.
There was one particular play at third base in which the third baseman appeared to have obstructed the base runner trying to get to home plate.
The umpire made the call, and according to his judgment the base runner would have been safe at home if the third baseman had not tangled up his legs. It was a judgment call. Not everyone agreed with that call, and so a controversy ignited.
These kinds of things happen in sports, and these days we have technology that can often help by providing an instant replay of the events that can even be slowed down and enlarged. Things that could not be seen on the field of play become obvious that way.
Well, in life, we don't get an instant replay. People have to do the best they can making judgment calls. Sometimes it seems they get it right and sometimes it seems they get it wrong. I say, “they,” but what I mean is “we.” We're all in that boat together.
Having said that, it is also apparent to me that some people get it wrong so often, and in such predictable ways that you could say they lack judgment or they act in poor judgment.
It could be a cognitive deficit, or it could be a personality flaw. Regardless of why they make poor judgment calls, they do. Over and over.
The most difficult judgment calls are not the ones that have to do with simple perception, as in refereeing a sports event.
The difficult ones have to do with human motivation, a preponderance of evidence when there are two sides to the story that conflict with each other, and in cases where there is no clear winner and one has to choose the lesser of evils.
Often, that last one is the situation in child custody situations that come before a court.
A judge must discern what, indeed, is in the best interest of the child — to be with Mom, to be with Dad, or in some way to be with them both.
When people make judgments and decisions, they not only operate with “facts,” but also because of their world views and beliefs about various things.
People who believe that the best place for a child is always with its mother will operate with a blind spot to complex situations in which the mother is not the best person for the child to be around most of the time.
A person who believes that a wife is the husband's possession will blame the wife for not wanting to be “owned” and find excuses for beating her into submission or being aggressive towards her friends.
People who battle addiction often struggle with poor judgment. It is a way of looking at the world that is tinted by addictive process.
They don't start from a position in which all things are equal; they start with the addictive behaviour being the first consideration.
Everything else is spun to the periphery of life; so, a clear head is often that last thing that is available. Consequently, relapse is very common.
“What happened that you started drinking again?”
“I don't know. I was at the bar and it just happened.”
“Your were at the bar?”
Right. Good judgment would have dictated staying away from the context in which drinking usually takes place, but bad judgment says: “That's where all my friends are right now.”
And then one thing leads to the next.
Sometimes a person's bad judgment becomes institutionalised because of his or her position in society.
A politician repeatedly makes infuriating comments about others in public. A judge repeatedly minimises responsibility on the part of offenders.
The leader of a team for an international business company repeatedly offers ingratiating comments to the young women in his office.
An educator stereotypes students and punishes one demographic more often than the others.
All these are evidence of blind spots in a person's schemas — the models of how the world works. Such world views or schemas rely on a person's sense of truth, the way they think things are.
I believe there is a truth, that is that there is one existence, one set of things happening, that exists outside of my ways of thinking about it.
If the tree falls in the forest without anyone there to see it, did it actually make a noise? I would say that it did, but that no one could hear it.
Others would say that it didn't because “noise” is by definition what people hear. The first reflects a critical realist world view, and the second reflects a more social constructionist world view.
To me, not all things are relative. While I understand that we each have our various and relative ways of seeing the world and making sense out it, our individual truths, there is still one, grand and overall Truth.
I cannot know it as such, because I am not infinite like God is. I cannot be at all places and know all things.
My mind is not sufficient to grasp it all and make sense of it — to know it as it is. However, I can be in the business of trying to understand as best I can, and that takes some humility.
It takes a bit of confession to admit that one tends to make bad judgment calls in an area where blinds spots exist and to be extra careful about them.
It doesn't take any effort to simply making bad judgments.