So Brett Favre is out of the NFL playoffs.
The stock market is back bouncing around 12,000.
Hillary is starting to win states. So is Romney.
Mad Money says don't buy a house... especially in Colorado.
They are all symptoms of conventional wisdom gone amuck.
Levitt and Dubner in their mega-seller "Freakenomics" say "it would be silly to argue that the conventional wisdom is never true. But noticing where the conventional wisdom may be false - noticing, perhaps, the contrails of sloppy or self-interested thinking - is a nice place to start asking questions."
How did the Giants beat the Packers? Wasn't Eli supposed to fold and Favre was supposed to shine? Well after 200 plus yards running last week, the G-Men said "Brett Ol' Boy... c'mon and beat us if you can. We choose to let you beat us." Uh, that defies conventional wisdom. Defying conventional wisdom was Eli Manning not throwing a pick in below zero weather and Brett throwing two, including a horrendous gaffe a minute into overtime. In August the conventional wisdom was that a Manning would be in the Super Bowl. But not Eli.
Football is a great medium to see the body politic, and the thinking of the herd, at work. On Friday afternoon, ESPN's "Sports Nation" poll showed that 76% of the population thought the 17-0 Patriots would beat the Chargers... and 81% thought the Packers would beat the Giants. It's not that 81% were wrong, it's just interesting to see the snap-to-judgment, easy-solution, not-mentally-taxing, that's-what-everybody-else-thinks-so-can-it-be-wrong, be, well... wrong. "That Terry Bradshaw like Favre, and that Berman likes Favre, and that Madden and Michaels duo likes Favre, and shoot, I'm 38 and grizzles and don't give a crap, so I like that Favre." Seventy-seven senators voted to invade Iraq in 2003 under the suspicion that the Iraqis must have weapons of mass destruction. So conventional wisdom and online voting, on things that really don't matter, show these sometimes wild gulfs of "huh?"
Well, anyone remember a vote in February of 2003? Seventy seven senators? They thought Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Sure, the CIA said they did. So did the Defense Dept. But what really said they had weapons was... conventional... thinking.
The stock market was up near 14,000 last year. It's barely over 12,000 now. Yes, real estate woes and sub prime implosions and credit tightening play into that. But the bets of get rich at any expense are also a part of that. What's funny is that I have (unfortunately but kinda fortunately) worked everyday since January 2nd because the real estate market for me... is...NOT...SLOW. I have put three listings on, written four deals, received six contracts, shown four buyers... and the month is 20 days old. That doesn't sound slow. But thanks to the stock market slipping, interest rates are around 5.5%. So while the media complains that the Bush economic stimulus is too small (it's just too dumb... watch, American middle class will go buy plasma TV's which depreciate faster than Brittney Spears career. Geez, thanks for the economic leadership), there's a HUGE flipside to this "problem": low interest rates, pent up buyer demand, Sears willing to finance a front-loading washer and dryer combo until 2009 (that breaks even in three years on utility savings)... those are all opportunities. But a paramount quality of any opportunity: it ain't an opportunity, if it isn't seized. Opportunities are positive. A missed opportunity is an oxymoron.
How willing are you to live with oxymorons? It's one thing to say, "hey, it's just a missed opportunity." But isn't it really "hey, that's an oxymoron, a non-koan, a rub that rubs wrong." Conventional thoughts give conventional answers. Conventional thinking lead to America's first Manning/Brady Super Bowl. How ya' doing, Eli?