Animals - Perils of jumping to conclusions
I was intrigued the other day when one of our farmers reported that his bank manager had brought along a consultant on the latest visit to his farm. The consultant was a specialist in critical thinking. I quizzed the farmer as to whether the critical thinking consultant was there to evaluate the farmer's decision making or the bank manager's. The farmer replied that either conclusion was possible. A good conclusion, I thought, being open to more than one conclusion.
As a veterinarian, we get training in making subjective evaluations (what we see and think) and objective evaluations (what we see and can measure). We assess the two evaluations and then plan potential diagnoses and treatments. The idea is not to jump to one conclusion and then find all the information to support that potentially wrong conclusion. We frequently have clients who have already reached conclusions. It might be a farmer deciding that a summer crop chosen “was a waste of time” and they are not going to replant that crop because it was “useless”, when the real issue with the crop was that it was planted four weeks later than was ideal. Or the client who thinks that a certain flea product was “useless and doesn't work” when the real issue was that the time interval between flea treatments was greater than the product required. Eli Goldratt, author of The Goal suggests that the best approach is not to directly attack the conclusion, but question the assumptions made to reach that conclusion.
Farmers are being blamed for being significant greenhouse gas producers and we're being told that farming is bad. Our government has made a significant commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Many farmers have concluded that “they aren't going to do it”, and many urban people have concluded that “it's the farmers who are bad, we don't have to do anything”. Both are poor conclusions. We all need to re-evaluate our environmental footprint.