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December 9, 2007

It is just as dangerous as under-thinking and just as corrupting of results. I see it everyday; sometimes, I fall into the over-thinking pit myself. The results are just plain bad judgments. I have hundreds of examples, but I will be able to share only one in this short issue of ForthRightViews.


Consider a really simple example: the placement of furniture in a dining room. Recently my wife bought some furniture that was used in a model home. One piece was a large bureau (I think that is what it is called) that she considered the deal of the century. She consulted with a neighbor who has really good taste in home design, and they decided to place the bureau in our dining room. Then they asked me for my opinion.


Having been married for 25 years, this is a role I have had to play many times, and I have developed a fairly effective method of assessment:

  1. Keep the bigger picture in mind. Both form and function are in play, but it is just furniture placement.
  2. Don’t get so attached to a design accessory that you will force-fit it into a room. It is just a piece of furniture.
  3. Don’t over-think your assessment once the placement has been made. You need to rely on your mind to interpret the impression that the placement makes. That is what others will use when they enter the room.
  4. Deal with the inevitable blow back from expressing your opinion.


I think I have mastered steps 1-3. Step 4 is a whole other matter.


The bureau is still standing in our dining room, blocking four horizontal feet and three vertical feet of a splendid view of the woods behind our house from the floor-to-ceiling bay window that is the key design feature in our dining room. Go figure.


Over-thinking our vote for leadership in a democratic republic seems to be another big problem. I use the same method as above, but I am bombarded by advice from pundits and special interest leaders daily. You know the advice:

  • Don’t waste your vote on him, he can’t win.
  • He can’t win the party nomination.
  • She can’t win the general election.
  • If you vote for him you split the party and give the election to the other party.
  • Hillary has Bill behind her, and Bill is every bit as black as Barack. He’s probably gone with more black women than Barack.


Here is a novel idea: Why don’t we each assess who we think is the best candidate, without under-thinking or over-thinking the matter, and cast our vote accordingly?