Check Your Myths at the Door

“Golf is game of inches.”

“Drive for show, putt for dough.”

Drivel. Complete and utter bullshit. The wisdom of the ages is wrong and it is statistically wrong. And the truly bloody thing is that it was so easy to check with a simple thought exercise.

Would you rather compete one-on-one against a professional golfer for 10 drives for total distance in the fairway or for 10 putts from 10 feet away?

In August, 2010 Michael Agger in Slate wrote about why most golf statistics whiff  and Mark Broadie‘s research into golf statistics that demonstrate the relative contributions of each part of the game – driving, approach (to the green), short game (pitching and chipping), and putting. Further, the book Lowest Score Wins by Barzeski and Wedzik takes these concepts and turns them into practical advice and guidance about the game.

The simple facts are these:

  1. The farther you hit the ball on the first shot on a par four (a “scratch” or near-perfect golfer takes an average of 4 strokes to play the hole) the shorter the second is.
  2. The shorter your second shot needs to be, the shorter the club you can use. Players tend to be increasingly accurate with shorter clubs.
  3. The closer to the hole your second shot lands, the easier (shorter) your third putt is.
  4. And so on.

In other words, hit at as long as possible (and keep it safe) so that your next shot is short as possible. Repeat.

Why did people believe the myth for so long, that putting mattered more than a driving?

Here’s a new truth: The last thing that happened is what you remember best.

Yep, we tend to forget how we started out. We most remember the end. And why does this matter?

Because it is probably not the only arena in which we act this way. I think is especially true of higher ed. Too often we focus on things high school GPA, SAT/ACT scores, status at entry, and other characteristics reflecting 17/18 years or more of personal history. With the creation of state longitudinal data systems over the last (almost) decade, we are getting closer to at least understanding the impact of other aspects of those 18 years of experience. As we get further along, I suspect we are going to come to a very clear conclusion – wealth and poverty are pretty much all that matters. Without addressing the negative impacts of poverty, nothing else will matter. This is pretty much the conclusion I have come to after looking at so much data on student outcomes.

This is why the work of scholars like Sara Goldrick-Rab and Tressie McMillan-Cottom is so important.

The myth of merit is a great myth. It gives us comfort and allows us to feel special about our own accomplishments. Somehow we earned our way. This despite the fact that we pretty much always end up close to where we start out. Exceptions allow us to reinforce this belief. “See? She did it, so all the others can.”

This is not to say that merit and hard work don’t have a role to play. They do. Just like putting. Once you are on the green, they help you get all the way to hole. And the prize. It’s getting to the green that counts.

Any fool can putt. It is the simplest stroke in golf. Driving a ball 250 or 300 yards down the middle of the fairway is much, much harder, especially multiple times.

Any fool can putt. I will happily compete head-to-head in putting contest from 25 feet with any professional golfer. After all, they are only expected to make that putt one time out of 10. I can do that. So can you, almost on the basis of pure luck alone.

In other words, how close you are born to the green makes a difference.

Check what you think you know. Is it real or a myth?


Ignorance, enough to fill a crowd

CROWD: A muslim! A muslim! A muslim! We’ve got a muslim! A muslim!
VILLAGER #1: We have found a muslim, might we burn her?
CROWD: Burn her! Burn!
BEDEMIR: How do you know she is a muslim?
VILLAGER #2: She looks like one.
BEDEMIR: Bring her forward.
muslim: I’m not a muslim. I’m not a muslim.
BEDEMIR: But you are dressed as one.
muslim: They dressed me up like this.
CROWD: No, we didn’t… no.
muslim: And this isn’t my nose, it’s a false one.
VILLAGER #1: Well, we did do the nose.
BEDEMIR: The nose?
VILLAGER #1: And the hat — but she is a muslim!
CROWD: Burn her! muslim! muslim! Burn her!
BEDEMIR: Did you dress her up like this?
CROWD: No, no… no … yes. Yes, yes, a bit, a bit.
VILLAGER #1: She has got a wart.
BEDEMIR: What makes you think she is a muslim?
VILLAGER #3: Well, she turned me into a newt.
BEDEMIR: A newt?
VILLAGER #3: I got better.
VILLAGER #2: Burn her anyway!
CROWD: Burn! Burn her!
BEDEMIR: Quiet, quiet. Quiet! There are ways of telling whether
she is a muslim.
CROWD: Are there? What are they?
BEDEMIR: Tell me, what do you do with muslimes?
VILLAGER #2: Burn!
CROWD: Burn, burn them up!
BEDEMIR: And what do you burn apart from muslimes?
VILLAGER #1: More muslimes!
VILLAGER #2: Wood!
BEDEMIR: So, why do muslimes burn?
VILLAGER #3: B–… ’cause they’re made of wood…?
CROWD: Oh yeah, yeah…
BEDEMIR: So, how do we tell whether she is made of wood?
VILLAGER #1: Build a bridge out of her.
BEDEMIR: Aah, but can you not also build bridges out of stone?
VILLAGER #2: Oh, yeah.
BEDEMIR: Does wood sink in water?
VILLAGER #1: No, no.
VILLAGER #2: It floats! It floats!
VILLAGER #1: Throw her into the pond!
CROWD: The pond!
BEDEMIR: What also floats in water?
VILLAGER #1: Bread!
VILLAGER #2: Apples!
VILLAGER #3: Very small rocks!
VILLAGER #1: Cider!
VILLAGER #2: Great gravy!
VILLAGER #1: Cherries!
VILLAGER #3: Churches — churches!
VILLAGER #2: Lead — lead!
ARTHUR: A duck.
CROWD: Oooh.
BEDEMIR: Exactly! So, logically…,
VILLAGER #1: If… she.. weighs the same as a duck, she’s made of wood.
BEDEMIR: And therefore–?
VILLAGER #1: A muslim!
CROWD: A muslim!
BEDEMIR: We shall use my larger scales!
BEDEMIR: Right, remove the supports!
CROWD: A muslim! A muslim!

You are all just a stack of data

You are all data.
Once we give into chipping, everything is much simpler. Who needs passwords & biometrics when we have RFID tags in our hands?

The more we accept that we are merely data, tracking everyone is only logical. And painless. Why worry about bad refugees or Muslim extremist when we can track everyone and everything they do.

Every. Single. Thing.

Think of the money we would save. No more IPEDS or CCD. No more cancer registries. No more Census. Everything is tracked organically.

No need for the IRS. Every transaction is micro-taxed, even relationship transactions, with direct fee to a central bank.

No more Census. We will know everything. We will all be part of a scalable dashboard. It will be beautiful. So many answers easily available, we won’t need to ask the questions.
We won’t need to fear because there will be nothing unknown. Your phone becomes a personal dashboard of every interaction. You won’t have to worry about remembering anything or anyone, Instant Recall will be an app your phone. Your life is lived to consume and be consumed. Organically. Naturally.

Your doctor can check your health at any time. You won’t need to visit her, a FaceTime appointment is available 24/7 with a provider who has access to all your records – including records of whom you have interacted with the past year – and their records.

Predictive analytics will cause first responders to be at the scene before you. Not to stabilize you, but to prevent the incident.
We will live forever, without fear, without question. A parade of answers that tell us or only choice today.

Ain’t gonna need to tell the truth, tell no lie
Everything you think, do and say
Is in the pill you took today

3D printers in every home will print out the meds you need for an optimal day.
Love will be instant. And painless. Incompatible algorithms will never be matched. Chocolate makers will struggle in the new economy as broken hearts never really happen. Nor does any fear comparable to that of the fear of Dementors.
Can there really be anything missing if we yield to the chip? Embrace your inner datum, one by one. Let’s all be tracked! Wave your had at the gas pump, over the collection plate, shake hands with a stranger and know them intimately, immediately.

And for those uncomfortable with the notion that they are data. They are also protein.
Dream big. Live big. Go. Make data of yourself.
You are already.
We are watching

The more I read twitter, the more I like the whole giant database thing. All of you as data, including all social media. Combine this with an app to rate everybody – snap a picture, select a dimension, give 0 to 5 stars – ratings shared with the world. Everything you do and say becomes both prediction of your next action and an indicator of risk you represent.
Love is not only algorithmic compatibility but acceptable levels of mutual safety.
Love stories become the stories of bots self-testing against other bots.
Fiction is transformed because chance in the narrative form becomes unfamiliar in the face of constant predictive analytics.
Does music become refined and predictable ( 3 chords & a message) or Steinman and Meat Loaf? I think the latter.
What happens to art in a predictive world? Ultimately we see the return and rise of Nordic expressionist – who can’t get no satisfaction.
Humor becomes contemplation of predictions that go wrong.

The predictive world is a brand new world without fear or excitement. Just data and ultimate knowledge.

And like the rabbits in warren that Hazel, Silver, and the rest encountered where nobody every asked “Where” another rabbit was, we will never ask “What if?”

There will be no if.

You are data.