Sunday, October 21, 2012

Think it through

Good morning, class. Today I want to talk about unintended consequences. Everyone's heard the phrase "Every action has a reaction". Therefore, it is foolish to act and not expect a reaction. So, if you understand there is going to be a reaction, then why not look at all the reactions possible before you act? A lot of times when we decide to act, it is because we're looking for a particular reaction. Though we see unintended consequences every day in our lives, we failed to foresee that we are every bit responsible for the unintended consequences of our actions as we are for the intended consequences. Ways in which we dodge the responsibility of unintended consequences is to simply say, "I didn't mean for that to happen", or to pass the blame of the negative reaction to the reactor. Most of the time, had you thought about all the reactions possible, you could have foreseen the reaction. Not all unintended consequences are necessarily negative. For instance, you sort through the clothes in your closet, bag up the slightly used clothing that you no longer wear, and donate them to your local church. Other church members see this, and without you saying a word, decide this is a wonderful idea and do the same. All you intended to do was donate a few things to people in need, when in fact, a landslide of donations occurred.

I entitled this post, "Think it through," because that is the only way to foresee unintended consequences. I will usually attempt to look at a situation through other people's eyes, especially if we have competing ideas. If you apply the principles of critical thinking such as human nature, personal experience, and observation, then it really isn't that difficult in foreseeing what their reaction is going to be. Gather your facts, come at the issue through their eyes, and then try to decide what the most appropriate approach would be that would result in the final goal or outcome that you're looking for. This would be the approach used if you are actually looking to solve a problem together. Unfortunately, most people attempt to solve problems by beating their opponent. In a lot of cases, critical thinking is used, but not to look for real solutions, such as in a game of chess.

I want to challenge you to a critical thinking exercise. I will lay out most of the scenario. You will need to pay close attention to what your final goal actually is. I will give you the cause and point out who your opponents will be. I've used this example before on Facebook, and found it to be a good exercise because it is a perfect example of critical thinking. Your assignment is to look for the unintended consequences. Think it through carefully and see if you can predict the reaction to the solution given to you. Then you will need to remove your emotions and see if you can come up with a better solution.

Bob decides he wants to live the American dream, take his chances and go for it. He wants to build a better life for his family and kids. He decides that he wants to pull all his resources together and build a wood shop. His dream has always been to build custom cabinets. He has an opportunity to purchase five acres of land just outside of town. He goes to City Hall and gets all the necessary permits, takes out a mortgage on his home, sells everything he owns that he doesn't necessarily have to have to get by, and cashes out his life savings and any bonds and and stocks that he has. He then uses his money to purchase the land, building materials, and goes to auctions looking for used tools and machinery to get started. He is now all in.

Out of nowhere, he runs into his first snag before he even breaks ground. During the land survey, a very rare lizard was discovered. Once this news got out, an injunction was placed on his land by the court to halt all development on this land. An environmental group is seeking to have this lizard placed on the endangered species list. And here lies the first unintended consequence. The environmental group simply wants to save and preserve the species of lizard, but have unintentionally wiped out the entrepreneur.

Now pay attention to the question. You know who your opponent is going to be. By past experience, you know what his chances are in winning a court battle, and so does everyone else. The real question is, is this the best way to protect and preserve the lizard species?


  1. I don't believe so, just by protecting the land will have no effect on the species but to let in continue on it's present path... endangered. you would have to study and understand the lizards breeding patterns to get a better idea of what is hindering it. It may be this area it's been driven into is indeed bad for it's reproduction. ..... Maybe q:"D

    1. The activist in this scenario are hell bent on saving the species and their solution is to not allow anything to be done on the land that may put them in more jeapordy. This isn't to say it's the only plot of land around the lizard occupys. If you believe that developement is what's pushing them out, then stopping developement would be your first knee jerk action you might take. But will it actually help in prezerving the lizard?

    2. If not, then what might be a better solution?

    3. Relocation to an area with no predictors and plenty of lizard snacks would be better then their approach. I know if I was a lizard that would make Mrs. lizard and myself happy enough to get frisky more often.

    4. Relocation is another solution. They would have to be relocated to a national park or something that couldn't be developed as well. Another solution might be to find a commercial value for the lizard so that they would be farmed. lizard skin walets, or perhaps put them on the menu.Deep fried lizard crisps, three four a dollar. The main reason putting them on the endangered species list thereby destroying the property value where they are found, is that all the property owners in the area will do whatever it takes to protect their land. Essentially you would be putting a bounty out on the poor lizard which would cause an opposite effect to their numbers.