Sunday, April 01, 2012

My weird reason...  

For worrying about a serious upper Midwest drought: I'm going with my gut.

Lookit, I ridiculed Pres. Bush for his "gut" statements, and while still doubtful he was using the best methodology, it now seems likely, that for some complex situations, feelings can help us make decisions.
Here’s where emotions come in handy. Every feeling is like a summary of data, a quick encapsulation of all the information processing that we don’t have access to. (As Pham puts it, emotions are like a “privileged window” into the subterranean mind.) When it comes to making predictions about complex events, this extra information is often essential. It represents the difference between an informed guess and random chance.
How might this work in everyday life? Let’s say, for example, that you’re given lots of information about how twenty different stocks have performed over a period of time. (The various share prices are displayed on a ticker tape at the bottom of a television screen, just as they appear on CNBC.) You’ll soon discover that you have difficulty remembering all the financial data. If somebody asks you which stocks performed the best, you’ll probably be unable to give a good answer. You can’t process all the information. However, if you’re asked which stocks trigger the best feelings – your emotions are now being quizzed – you will suddenly be able to identify the best stocks. According to Tilmann Betsch, the psychologist who performed this clever little experiment, your feelings will “reveal a remarkable degree of sensitivity” to the actual performance of all of the different securities. The investments that rose in value will be associated with the most positive emotions, while the shares that went down in value will trigger a vague sense of unease.
But this doesn’t meant we can simply rely on every fleeting whim. The subjects had to absorb all that ticker-tape data, just as Pham’s volunteers seemed to only benefit from the emotional oracle effect when they had some knowledge of the subject. If they weren’t following college football, then their feelings weren’t helpful predictors of the BCS championship game.
The larger lesson, then, is that our emotions are neither stupid nor omniscient. They are imperfect oracles. Nevertheless, a strong emotion is a reminder that, even when we think we know nothing, our brain knows something. That’s what the feeling is trying to tell us. [Please read the whole post - it's not long]
This whole production season has creeped me out. From too little precip for too long to too high temps too early, my feelings of concern about the growing season are...well, growing. While I have some semi-rational justifications, such as the deepening soil moisture deficit and increased likelihood of warm temperatures due to latent environmental heat now stored in the ground and water, I also realize long-range forecasts really can't be counted on.

So we're giving a little more credence to our uneasiness with assuming weather will return to normal. In fact, judging by some conversations at a wedding last night, there will be more bean acres in Central IL than were planned just last week. Too-dry-to-plant-chiseled-stalk-fields are going to beans.

It's just a feeling, but Jonah suggests it meets the criteria for when feelings should not be totally discounted.


On another topic, a request has poured in for planting pictures from our farm. This is my famous "Clod Cam": planting as seen by a clod in the field on the marker track. Note the dust.

These were taken last Thursday 3/29. We were trying to get a new(to us) 1770 JD planter, a new Case 315 tractor, and a new Precision Planting System all started. As I shared on USFR, it was the worst First Day in my career.

After 3 days, Aaron finally deduced we had double intermittent failures: a shaft speed sensor and planter drive motor controller. The odds of that happening are astronomical. I should have bought a lottery ticket.

After replacing both, the headache finally ended.

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