6.29.2016

What Moneyball Taught Me about Not Jumping to Conclusions



https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/cd/Moneyballsbn.jpgI find it interesting that we simultaneously lament the increasingly polarized nature of public discourse and then contribute to that polarization when we participate in that discourse.  Not that there isn't space for expressing outrage, piling on someone or something that deserves scorn, and publicly giving up on the other side ever “getting it.”  But sometimes those responses amplify the differences we claim to want to bridge.

If our goal is to vent, look good to people we are trying to impress, or take a swing at a popular punching bag, then by all means carry on.  But if our goal is to keep an open mind, establish a real connection with others different from us, or actually make real change, then maybe we ought to listen twice as much as we talk, and put in the work to get in someone else’s shoes before we jump down their throat. 

A characteristic of INTJs (which I am one) is that we approach life as something of a thought experiment.  We interface with issues by expressing multiple positions and unpacking each one, however repugnant or bizarre they may seem at first.  In fact, sometimes it is helpful to play out a crazy or contemptible position, because it helps you get to a better place of understanding.  This is a helpful trait for keeping an open mind when consuming contemporary issues.

I am also aided in my long-time support of my childhood baseball team, the Oakland A’s.  Most teams have long since caught up, but there was a time when the A’s enjoyed a real competitive advantage because they were willing to draft players and execute strategies based on what worked according to the stats rather than what looked good to the baseball purists.  To cite but one example from Michael Lewis’ bestselling book, “Moneyball,” the A’s never gave in to the seduction of physical specimens who look good in a uniform, and were completely comfortable stocking their teams with players who were overweight, funny-throwing, or just plain ugly, but who could contribute to winning teams.

Now, there’s a big difference between a leisure pastime and life-or-death issues like gun control, Supreme Court rulings, and presidential elections.  But the spirit should be the same.  When confronted with a statement or news event that on its face seems abhorrent to your dearest beliefs, it is possible that it is in fact abhorrent.  But it is also possible that it is in fact far more nuanced and complex than “I am good and this is evil.” 

Maybe it’s easier, or we look better, when we rush to judgment and are quick to condemn.  But, even and especially on the day’s biggest issues, reality may be quite muddier than that.  And INTJs and A’s fans aren’t the only ones who can acknowledge that.
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