Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Anticipating the future

Here is a personal example of a failure of anticipatory thinking. It demonstrates a lack of expertise. I once took a flight from Dayton, Ohio to New York City and left my car in the airport parking lot. I tuckedmy car keys in my briefcase because I wouldn’t need them while in New York. For complex reasons I was unable to fly home but instead took a train from New York to Toledo, Ohio where I was picked up by my mother-in-law (who was driving from her home in Detroit to my home in Ohio) and driven south to Dayton. I was dropped off at the Dayton airport so I could reclaim my car. As I left my mother-in-law's car I wondered if I should take my suitcase and briefcase with me but didn’t see any reason to do so – my mother-in-law and I were both going to drive to my home and I could get the suitcase and briefcase at that time. As I approached my car I realized my mistake. If I had been questioned a minute earlier I would have been able to correctly answer all these questions: Where is your car? (In the airport parking lot.) Where are your car keys? (In my briefcase.) Where is your briefcase? (In my mother-in-law’s car.) Where is her car? (Currently driving away from the airport.) The problem is that all four facts stayed separate until too late. This example shows a failure of anticipatory thinking. It was a failure to anticipate that I would need the briefcase and car keys as I got out of the car.

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