Constitutional Experiment #45...the largest A/B test in the world

Regardless of your political persuasion, you've likely become a more engaged citizen now than ever before, because the grand experiment has not turned out the way you thought it would.  You’re either completely depressed and dejected or surprised and elated. With the Republicans on one side and the Democrats on the other, the U.S. government is really the largest A/B experiment in the world. But that's exactly what we forget: it's an experiment.We think we are watching politics, but what we are really watching is an A/B test. In A/B testing, one solution wins out over another. Tests always start with a set of assumptions. Assumptions are informed by values, such as: Liberty, Equality & Self-Government. A winning result means both sides to develop and refine their processes, prompting new questions, but one solution dominates.The shock (and surprise) being expressed right now are reminders that we got complacent with our own values, and with the grandness of the experiment. We forgot the magnitude of the opportunity and the impacts of losing liberties.Experiments require ongoing participation. Results are never taken for granted. Living in one of the greatest experiments of our time, we have the privilege of directly participating in through voting, activism, volunteering, or dedicating our careers to a regional problem or public service.

How many of us do two or more of those things on an ongoing basis? 

When we don't have to earn our rights by fighting a war, surviving a depression, or managing a natural disaster--all of which rely on government systems--we forget our core values and take our liberties for granted. We get complacent. We begin to feel entitled to a particular outcome from the great experiment. If this occurs, it means the refinements happening are no longer. Over time, the results of the test are less and less inclusive of the whole. The test has become, in fact, rigged to one side or the other.We are consuming reason and facts and evidence and science and feedback—en masse—more than we ever have before. Synthesizing information is a messy process. So is governing.  Meaningful shifts do not come from one test. They come from thousands of tests.Government is less efficient than business, by design. It is a giant barge, not a nimble aircraft. Systemic change that lasts gets fully integrated by society, like minimum wage, social security, civil rights, or voting rights takes time. It requires everyone participating in the experiment, not just the leader, to commit to playing a long game. For example, the judicial appointment to the Supreme Court was not 45’s victory, but a predictable outcome of 30 years of painstaking work by an organization most people are just now hearing of: the Federalist Society

The longest game we’ve had in the oval office in a very long time is being replaced by the shortest game in that office, maybe ever. And the feelings experienced across the country (and around the world) is the "quick hit" once an A/B test returned "an answer" as if it were the last answer.We need to remember that experiments are never over. There is only more refining.  Another A/B test is coming.

How will you choose to engage?

About being strong, good-looking, and above average

How do I love me? Let me count the ways:

  • Ethics: Most business people tend to rate themselves as “more ethical” than others in business.  In fact, in a 1997 national survey asking people how they would rate their own morals and values on a scale from 1 to 100 (100 = perfect), 50% of those people rated themselves 90 or above.  A scant 11% rated themselves as 74 or less.

  • Professional Competence: The vast majority of business managers (90%) rate their performance as superior to their peers and most surgeons believe the mortality rate of their patients is lower than average.

  • Virtues: Most high school students in the Netherlands rate themselves as more friendly, honest, and reliable than the average high school student.

  • Driving: The majority of drivers (including those who have been hospitalized for car accidents) perceive themselves to be safer drivers than the average driver.

  • Intelligence: Most people consider themselves to be more intelligent, more attractive, and less prejudiced than most people.  Almost comically, when outperformed, most people consider the other person to be a “genius.”

  • Tolerance: According to a 1997 Gallup poll, 14% of white Americans rated their prejudice against Blacks as a 5 (on a scale of 1 – 10), although they rated 44% of other Whites as being more prejudiced (5 or above).

  • Parental Support: The majority of adults perceive themselves as giving more support to their aging parents than their siblings.

  • Health: Most college students believe that they will outlive their predicted age of death by 10 years.

  • Insight: Most of us tend to believe that we understand others better than they understand us. We also tend to believe than we understand ourselves better than other people understand themselves.

  • Freedom from Bias: People tend to see themselves as freer from the effects of bias than most other people.

The psychology term for this is illusory superiority.  Examples came from Self In A Social World.

It’s hard to hear that you are average or even below average, isn’t it? Kind of stings a little to hear we aren’t perfect.

At first, like almost everybody, I thought, “Yes, but I really am above average!” Then I realized I was doing it again.

So I decided to gamble on the opposite: I now just assume I’m below average.

It serves me well.

I listen more. I ask a lot of questions. I let myself get curious about things.

I don’t think I’m surrounded by idiots. I assume most people are smarter than me. It is a true statement: everyone else has a different lived experience. 

To assume you’re below average is to admit you’re a beginner. It confirms you are learning. It gives you the gift of a student’s mind. It keeps your focus on present practice and future possibilities, and away from any past accomplishments.

There isn’t a young pianist out there, if they are honest, that when they started out playing Chopsticks, ever thought they had what it took to make it to Carnegie Hall.

Most people are so worried about posturing, faking it until they make it, that they never do anything really great.

They self-edit. They opt to remain polished and share the correct answer, versus getting messy, stuck, and vulnerable by learning something new.

They only move one brick back and forth.

They cut themselves off from interesting opportunities.

Most people are so worried about doing something great that they never do anything at all.

You destroy that sense of stuckness when you think of yourself as such a beginner that just doing anything is an accomplishment.

Or even better, it’s just a small experiment.