Golf and the Art of Analytical Thinking Explained to Ford’s Cabinet
Considering that most people don’t like to look dumb, it is safe to presume that politicians fall into that category too. But when you need to balance political considerations and public well-being during a major health crisis, this can turn out to be a bit difficult. Maybe an old trick could help. It is called analytical thinking (or just reasoning) and 2400 years of continuous testing since it was all the rage among Greek hipsters with sandals and white robes suggests it is often helpful.
How about trying it? In easy mode, the starting point — actually the only point here — is to distinguish amid sheer confusion which things are pretty much the same and which differ significantly. Let’s see how this works.
Imagine, for instance, that someone tries to reduce virus transmission with sound decisions based on established facts rather than vague feelings. One key measure would be to encourage good behaviors and prevent bad conducts, but how to distinguish them? That’s where analytical thinking kicks in. Two sets of data obviously stand out: A) collective activities tend to be risky while individual activities typically aren’t. B) Indoor activities tend to be risky while outdoor activities typically aren’t (actually, they are even regarded as favorable to mental and physical health). Agree on this? Now, let’s draw a nice little matrix from it:
Are things getting a bit clearer? Of course, when it comes to behaviors, we could also consider the age factor, since older citizens like me tend to believe they are much more cautious than younger people, but let’s keep it simple. For instance, rave parties fall into the lower right spot, as well as places where you go with a yellow bus. Note that if it is your sports team’s bus, then you are in the lower left.
You could nuance this a bit with regard to some kind of safety measures in certain collective locations, but the place to be is definitely in the upper left, where you can find birdwatchers, anglers and, let’s see… oh yes, golfers!
Not that anglers are just pure innocent souls: I have heard that some occasionally enjoy fishing with a friend. Worst: a few birdwatchers are even known to share their ride from time to time, as some grocery shoppers do. Also, the use of private cars is indeed a concern from an environmental point of view. Yet, it clearly appears that the decision to ban leisure fishing and birdwatching is blatantly contrary to reason and, by the way, to public health. Oh, there has been no such decision? Then I retract this comment. And the whole demonstration.
Wait! Is it true that the government of Ontario didn’t forbid angling but did forbid golf? That wouldn’t make sense. Surely, the rumors reporting that this decision relied on arguments as sound as “we can’t see any reason to open golfs while schools are closed”, “some golfers happen to share their car” or “politically, how could we justify allowing golf and differing baseball” are unfounded: we are talking of serious decision makers, here. Plus, there is no political benefit at stake, quite the contrary: the main consequence would be to anger golfing voters like a missed two-foot putt. Thus, since safe outdoor activities are certainly encouraged, golf courses are necessarily open, as they are pretty much everywhere. Don’t believe anything else.
Still, I might as well let my very simple decision matrix available, in case it could be of some help to anyone wanting to exercise his judgment, just so as not to risk sounding too dumb.