Why Do Smart People Miss the Mark?
A lesson in ammunition magazine feed issues, brilliant engineers and the pitfalls of bias in problem solving.
When I first heard about the deadly incident in Memphis, I wondered how long it would take for the media to look at this incident, the fatal beating of a black man by five black policemen, that happened in a majority black city that hasn’t had a GOP mayor since 1967 and has a black police chief, and decide racism played a part and it was the fault of the Republicans.
My question was both rhetorical and sarcastic because I knew it would happen within hours.
True to form, CNN said just because the victim was black and the perpetrators were black did not mean racism didn’t play a role. Former progressive representative from New York, Mondaire Jones, now a CNN employee (but of course), linked the incident to Ron DeSantis. MSNBC “expert” contributor Paul Butler said “"Republicans in Congress...stood in the way of passing legislation that would make a difference and prevent more tragic cases like this one." The always good for a hot take Jemelle Hill said that ““the entire system of policing is based on white supremacist violence” and if you notice that all the alleged perpetrators are black, well, you are just a racist.
Bree Newsome Bass, BLM activist, tweeted “Once again— whiteness is an *ideology* There are some Black people who believe in it more than some white folks. There are some poor white people out here demanding the abolition of police while some buttoned up Black folk are still desperately trying to preserve their little slice of the white capitalist pie. Always been like that.”
So, there you go. Nothing anybody with functioning brain cells couldn’t see coming.
One wonders if when these people wake up in the morning, the first thing on their mind is “What can I call racist today?”
I’m not making excuses for them to be this evil, because that is what this is it is straight up racism, but a recent personal experience might give some insight as to why otherwise intelligent people say so many stupid things – things there is no evidence to support.
I’m Vice President of Research and Development for a small company here in Utah and as such, I work with super intelligent, super creative engineers and designers every day. Literally, our jobs are to think up new ideas, research them, figure out if the market needs them or introducing them will create a new market, then designing, prototyping and testing them in anticipation they will be handed off to manufacturing to make and to sales and marketing to take to market.
One of our engineers, a very smart and experienced guy created a beautiful new product that will make its own market because it is so cool. It is a 5.56 magazine that holds 53 rounds. The problem is that we had trouble getting it to feed correctly for the full 53 rounds. Some did, some didn’t – and we targeted 100% reliability as one of the desired design outputs, so we had to resolve the issue. We measured everything we could, 3D printing prototypes and cutting them open to get a look at the internals, not even the injection molded parts we had made worked 100%, 100% of the time.
The engineer in charge of the project (it was his design) decided the combination of the spring and a few non-conforming internal dimensions were the issue and proceeded to work those issues by testing different springs and ordering another injection molding die to be made. Four months into the problem resolution process, we still had the issue. It had not been resolved.
Then a change happened. The young engineer got engaged and decided to pursue a long desired dream of he and his fiancé to travel the world before they settled down, so by his choice, he left the company with our blessing to do just that.
The project was transferred to the new Senior Design Engineer I hired to replace him and a new set of eyes with a different experience base took on the issue.
After a couple weeks of study of the history and several hours in our prototype shop trying different things, our new engineer cut apart several of our competitors models to look at the differences between theirs and ours. When he did that, he noticed the follower, the plastic piece that sits on top of the compression spring was always parallel with the rounds and ours had enough room to slightly tip when it got about halfway down.
He stuck his head in my office about three weeks ago and showed me what he found, we modified a digital model and ran some new parts in our 3D printer, assembled mags using mag bodies we knew to be non-conforming and guess what? The feed problem went away. One Friday morning, he shot over 1500 rounds through 4 different guns, one of which was full auto, using four different magazines per gun.
Zero feed failures.
We sent AR-15 rifles kitted out with our new lower receivers to accommodate the new mags to Shot Show and between firings at two different range days, ran over 3,000 rounds through those rifles without a single feed failure.
Here’s what we learned from this episode.
The problem wasn’t resolved because our old design engineer was stupid and our new guy is brilliant – because they both are brilliant. What was happening is that the first engineer took so much pride in his design, for about four months, he simply overlooked the potential issue in favor of his bias toward things he was confident were the issues – turns out, none of them were real contributors to the problem. The dimensions that were not to print had absolutely nothing to do with the problem.
Our new engineer wasn’t burdened with the history of the product development and was able to look at it from an entirely different perspective – no sacred cows to slaughter – and through is eyes, he saw the real problem and fixed it – within weeks.
I guess the moral of the story is that smart people can be blinded by pride of ownership and bias. We all sometimes try to make the evidence fit when it doesn’t. Square peg, meet round hole.
The ubiquitous screeches of “Racism!” we hear from the left-wing social engineers is just like our feed issue. They are focused on things they want to be the problem because that is what fits their bias rather than looking at other potential issues. Like in our case, when something isn’t conforming, that doesn’t mean that thing is the cause of the problem, it is possible that that condition does not contribute to the issue at hand and working to fix anything that is not part of the real issue is a waste of time.
Something the Democrat-CNN-MSNBC crowd should learn.