It is true that we have different ways of interpreting our surroundings. I’ve been talking about those who use gut feelings and intuition to make decisions. Those people are at odds with the people who use data, facts and figures to interpret their surroundings. We have on one hand a group of people who will use a dictionary as the basis for defining what a word means and on the other hand a group who define words based on their emotional appeal or shock value.
So, what do the data users see when they look at our POTUS? Why don’t we see him as a benefactor who is going to Make America Great again? Why aren’t we thrilled with the idea that he is bringing good jobs back to this country? Why don’t we see how much he has done already?
Data users want facts and figures, then we are going to search out what is included in those facts and figures. We process long chains of cause and effect to analyze how that data impacts other data. Yes, it is possible to do this. Some people find this easy.
Let me use a specific example to show the difference as to how the gut instinct people view a policy different from the data people. Let’s look at what is called The Travel Ban. Our gut instinct people are quite happy. Someone is doing something to make them safer. The laws are being enforced. No undocumented people are coming in from those strange places.
The data person looks at the same travel ban and nearly has a heart attack. First, we see that this new ban is pretty much the same as what we’ve been doing-not much new about it, except all the vetting that has been put in place over the past few years has been disregarded. Data people understand that to board a plane, a traveler must have the appropriate Visa, passport and ticket in hand. Those documents are checked before boarding a plane. Data people know that to get the appropriate visa an application must be completed. In some cases, the traveler must be interviewed. The traveler must have some indication of their activities on this end. These are the standards that we had in place. They vary from country to country. The travel ban wasn’t so much a change in who can come here from where, but an invalidation of previous standards and protocols for traveling.
The second part of the travel ban that drove data people up the wall was that the invalidation of previous standards and protocols happened after people were in the air. People who had done all the necessary paperwork to get on those planes to come here were then detained with the threat of deportation when they landed.
Oh My Gosh! How many of our basic laws were broken when those people were detained? Unreasonable search and seizure? Yes. Incarceration without due process? Yes, being detained in a waiting room is incarceration if you are held against your will. Ex post Facto application of the law? Yes.
While the gut-feelings people were feeling safe, the data people were horrified at the total disregard for the laws of this country. Historically, rule of law is what allows a civilization to develop and function safely, and rule of law just got deported in the travel ban.
We are inclined to say, either you enforce the law or you don’t. The Travel Ban had the effect of breaking several existing laws. Data people do not accept the notion that violating existing laws is okay if it makes someone feel good.
Data users also have a nasty tendency to look beyond the immediate issue and ask, “How necessary was this? How often have refugees, immigrants, scholars, doctors and business professionals from these countries endangered our citizenry?” Never?
Will this have an effect on future travel? People from other countries say they are cancelling travel plans to come here. We’ve become ineligible to host international sporting events. Girl Guides from Canada say they won’t come here. We hear stories about people cancelling travel plans. Can we find data to back up these allegations? Those in the travel and tourism industries are posting numbers that show fewer people are planning to travel to the US than there were at this time last year. Really, it’s a bit early to be certain that our travel and tourism industries have been hurt by the travel ban, but some numbers indicate that it’s very possible the travel ban will hurt our economy and people in the travel industry will lose their jobs, but those who harbor a vague sense of insecurity in their gut are happy that someone is protecting them even if that protection results in suffering for many others and the loss of the protection of our own laws.
In the end, we see the data users going a wee bit crazy over seeing our laws violated. When we complain, the gut-instincts people have a fight or flight response over the threat of having their security blanket stolen. Can we ever cross this divide to work together for common goals? How?