By Brad Thomason, CPA
As an Auburn grad, I find myself in the relatively unfamiliar territory of caring what happens in the upcoming NCAA tournament. In my 30+ year association with the Tigers, I’m not sure how many times we’ve been here. But it ain’t been many.
Nonetheless, you would have to have been living under a rock to not be aware of how much hoopla and excitement surrounds the tournament every year. It’s a big sporting event that hits the calendar at a time when not a lot else is going on. But that’s probably only half the explanation. The other half seems tied to the widespread love of prognostication that ramps up this time of year.
Everyone seems to have an opinion – an expert opinion, no less - on who will be seeded where; and once the official list is in, everyone has their version of how the games will play out. So much so that the games themselves almost seem incidental, at times.
You can even Google the invented word “bracketology,” a straight-forward reference to the bracket structure used to illustrate the tournament participants, and find an astounding amount of information.
Well, you can find an astounding amount of content. How much information is there, is questionable.
You see, humans can’t predict the future. So when a bunch of humans get together and start talking about what is going to happen, then it bears remembering that it is all, in the end, just a bunch of gibberish. It has no impact on reality. There is no authoritative weight behind any of it. Things like insight and faith and certainty don’t have a place here. It’s all just guessing. No matter the supposed rationale. No matter the track record for having guessed right in the past. No matter the resume of the person doing the guessing. Still just guessing.
Since the subject matter is basketball, it’s OK. It’s all just for fun. There are no consequences for being wrong (or at least they are limited to the size of your bet, if you put your money where your belief was).
But if we start to apply similar behavior in other areas then the situation can be a lot different. If we start to think that we (or some other human) can state what the stock market is going to do, or where inflation rates will be 5 years from now, or how many years we’ll be able to dodge a trip to the hospital for a serious matter, then we are basing our expectations on something that is very flimsy.
We’ll have more to say about future events (and the viewpoints of experts) in later posts. But for now it is sufficient to focus on the core point. Spend all the time you want reading articles, listening to interviews, and working the voodoo on your own version of how the bracket will play out.
But don’t lose sight of the fact that it’s all just guesswork, no matter who it’s coming from. Doesn’t matter how much they know about basketball. Doesn’t matter how flashy their production studio is or how much money they spent using computers to come up with the predictions. Still just humans guessing. Humans who can’t predict the future.
And more importantly, when you get ready to switch focus to the more serious topics of your life, don’t be fooled into thinking a fun, play-time activity is a good model for how deal with future events which actually will have an impact on your life. Because it isn’t.
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