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Know better, do better, take door number three


By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

Senator Linda Coleman recently said, “When we know better, we ought to do better.” I think that is wise. She also added to that sage statement, “The question is, now that we know better are we going to do better.”

The short answer is maybe not, but some will try, and even a few will succeed. It is not in human nature to change, at least not to change very quickly.

In the math world there is a theory known as the Monty Hall problem. It is named for its similarity to the Let’s Make a Deal television game show hosted by Monty Hall. The problem is as follows. Assume that a room is equipped with three doors. Behind two are goats, and behind the third is a shiny new car. You are asked to pick a door, and you will win whatever is behind it. Let’s say you pick door 1. Before the door is opened, however, someone who knows what’s behind the doors (Monty Hall) opens one of the other two doors, revealing a goat, and asks you if you wish to change your selection to the third door (i.e., the door which neither you picked nor he opened). The Monty Hall problem is deciding whether you do.

The correct answer is that you do want to switch. If you do not switch, you have the expected 1/3 chance of winning the car, since no matter whether you initially picked the correct door, Monty will show you a door with a goat. But after Monty has eliminated one of the doors for you, you obviously do not improve your chances of winning to better than 1/3 by sticking with your original choice. If you now switch doors, however, there is a 2/3 chance you will win the car (counterintuitive though it seems).

In study after study people stuck with their first choice.

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There seems something in human nature that makes us resistant to change. Nothing makes us more unwilling to change or admit we were wrong than crowd or group influence.

No doubt we all see things differently, whether it’s charter schools, tax incentives or even the basics of life.

The Talmud has this expression “We see the world, not as it is, but as we are.”

Some see tax incentives like the one proposed HB159 as taking money away from the Education Trust Fund, therefore hurting children. While others see it as a way to create jobs and increasing the tax base therefore helping everyone. While still others would argue that giving big tax breaks to companies is nothing short of corporate welfare and hurts all.

Who is right?

Nowhere is there more resistance to change than in politics.

In the political world changing your mind can be tantamount to high treason, (See Mitt Romney).

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In politics constancy is as a form of strength, change a sign of weakness.

By in large our politicians and thought leaders don’t like change but will if given enough data. Alabamians live everyday with the legacy of the racal mistakes of our forefathers. But just when we think that we might not be called racist any longer the mainstream media fabricates a race-based story.

A recent news article (if it can be called that), said that Alabama’s new state redistricting plan would be settled in court. Redistricting for state congressional seats have not even been completed, how does this reporter know they will be challenged in court?

The fact is the reporter doesn’t know but he assume that they will be drawn with a racist pen and therefore will be challenged.

Why?  One must conclude that this individual reporter sees GOP lawmakers as racist, therefore, they will draw racist districts.

I however, would think that because the US Congressional lines received speedy approval, the same would be true for the state ones.

The report and I see things differently, because I believe that the people of Alabama have changed over the last 50 years. I believe that Alabamians are good people and so are most of our elected officials.

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I do not believe that HB56 was race based, but it had problems, that are now being remedied. I don’t believe charter schools, tax incentives are all bad, I think they can be good, but the current bills have problems and need some fixes. (The charter school bill I fear is so watered down that is it mostly a token of the original and that is not good.)

Our current group of lawmakers, when shown what is behind door number three are deciding to change their minds. It is hard and troublesome but it is happening.

This can be a very good thing or to paraphrase Senator Coleman, “When we know better, we do better.” We are I think.

Written By

Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.


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