judgment bias

i watch this show “pawn stars” sometimes; i believe it’s on the history channel.  basically it’s a show about a family-run pawn shop and its peculiar happenings; peculiar because people will pawn just about anything, and the show tries to capture all the weird items (and sometimes people) that parade through the shop’s doors.  it’s kind of interesting to learn the values (at least in terms of pawn shops) of all the different items, and how the pros assess the values of all those different things, from coins to antique cannons.  (yes, someone sold an actual cannon to the shop!)

anyway, this gentleman came in to sell what he thought was an antique french musket from the late 1700s (i think).  that thing was like five feet tall.  the man said that his dad was a big gun collector, and he thought the musket would have some value.  the shop owner, not being an expert on antique arms, called in an expert for an appraisal.  after some careful eyeballing, the expert pronounced the musket a replica, most likely a prop used in movies and could not be fired.  basically, it wasn’t really worth anything, unless there was documentation that the replica was used in a famous movie.  the seller left, with the newfound knowledge that his musket was not real and could only be sold cheaply, if there was even a buyer.  (the antique arms expert said that a real 1700s antique musket could fetch $6,000-$8,000.)

before the negotiations began, the show did a solo interview of the gentleman with the musket.  he sounded like he believed his dad’s judgment in guns, and thought that an antique-looking firearm in his dad’s collection would be of value.  but he made an assumption: just because his father was a gun collector didn’t mean his father was a good gun collector, or that his father only collected valuable guns.  but it seemed to me that the gentleman had too much faith either in his assumption or in his father (maybe both), and didn’t bother to check facts or do research.

same thing in pool.  just because we hear a new technique about pool from a famous coach/player/pro, doesn’t mean we should shut our brains off and accept it blindly.  before we accept a new premise, we must ask, does this make sense?  how will it apply to me?  will this work for my game?  if someone tries to teach me the slip stroke, will it hurt my game or help my game?  will using that efren stroke add two racks to my nine-ball game, or take away two racks?

“trust, but verify.”  it doesn’t hurt to try to understand the basis of a thing, even if it comes from someone that has your admiration.

4 comments on “judgment bias

  1. First off, I love that show — it’s like antique road show with drama!

    Your advice is really important for players to hear.
    While some tips have been wondrous for me, other times, I’ve followed a tip from someone, driven myself MAD, only to have Tony say, “Gail, that won’t work for you with your style!” Everyone is different. There’s a sifting process for all lessons.

    • thanks for commenting smassy!! and thanks for thinking my advice is important. 😳

      i think that all players walk that fine line between “valuable advice from good players/coaches” and “will that advice work for me”. it’s important to be a sponge, but even a sponge is born with filters. just gotta exercise some caution.

      also, i think a good teacher/coach can help a player fine-tune his/her inner filters, so that player will know what can potentially work. if a player finds a teacher that can do this, he/she should hang on to that teacher for dear life. that’s a rare ability, in my opinion.

  2. “trust, but verify.” Very good point. This is mostly true with player’s who are beginners. They tend to be vulnerable to what other players teach them, and try hard to imitate what they see and what they are being taught. Sadly, not everything taught is right or correct for that specific person. It may work for the “coach”, but it may not work for the recipient.

    If someone teaches me something, I’ll try it for a few hours, and if it doesn’t work, it goes straight to the recylce bin.

    • i myself suffered from the self-imposed “copy efren” syndrome, so i know first hand how incompatible techniques can do to ur game. it’s worse if it came from a teacher.

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