Turkish Football Federation and Jockey Club of Turkey, preparing to return to normal operations…

I sometimes discuss the Dunning–Kruger effect with my fellow academics. This empirical evidence of meta-ignorance describes how the incompetent lack the skills and cognitive abilities to recognize their own inability. For their excellent study, David Dunning and Justin Kruger have been awarded the 2000 Ig Nobel Prize for psychology. Unfortunately today, there are countless living examples that prove this study.

The other day on a live newscast show, a guest has uttered the following words: “According to a report by Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board of Turkey, we can start everything again under risk-free conditions if we take every precaution possible. The rest of the world has already started to return to normal anyway!” These words made me immediately think of more than 4000 Turkish citizens who lost their lives to Covid-19 and thousands of other patients still undergoing treatment. When it was my turn to speak, I tried to be as clear as possible so every single word I said could be understood by everyone in the studio and people watching us on television:

“It’s just ignorant, even stupid to think there will be no risks at all”. I knew I had to say these words to honor the memory of people who died of Covid-19 and the efforts of medical professionals who did and still continue doing everything they can to save lives. You should all remember that the second wave of 1918 Spanish flu was even more devastating than the first wave.

As I don’t refrain from voicing my concerns about some institutions that are being opened too early just to make money, I also do not refrain from saying what is need to be said about the Turkish Football Federation (TFF). Last week the current president of TFF, Nihat Özdemir said, “We’ll discard the coronavirus-affected players and resume the season”. These are not the words of a person of a sane mind. However, such sort of speaking is always welcomed in football and other types of sports, unfortunately.

I spoke on the phone with officials from the Jockey Club of Turkey (TJK) on Friday. They sounded quite more reasonable compared to TFF officials, saying that they have been very careful about all of this and they are not in a position to claim that the risk is near zero. They also added, “We are being realistic and we trust in science”. To me, these are the words of a reasonable, sound minded, professional person as opposed to those who have been making ungrounded bold statements on television.

Since April, when I explained my concerns about the government’s approaches to Covid-19, more and more people have been attacking me on social media. As far as I understand, people who violently insist on returning to ‘normal’ are actually pursuing their own interests. But, I won’t refrain, for even one moment, from speaking my mind. The more we learn, the more we should be skeptical, not impudent.

“A hardliner, yet not a supporter…”

“Paylaşmazsak Olmazdı” I co-authored with Mr. Yalın Alpay furnishes the most important examples of situations where people believe in inconsistent and unfounded opinions of others. The following passage tells us a type of human behavior where we can seem to care about the things said by people we don’t actually like, when it serves our purpose.

When I was in university, I used to listen to research assistants of opposing political beliefs discuss among each other. One day, an assistant asked to the other, “How come you always read our newspapers?” The other assistant smiled and said, “Of course, I do because I get sick and tired of reading how my mates are being despised and ill-treated whenever I look at the headlines in our newspapers. Your newspapers, on the other hand, telling our unstoppable march towards political, is full of stories designed to provoke an angry response from you. To be honest, reading ourselves in these stories is always such a delight to me to”.

People usually tend to read news just to hate something, love something or condemn or blame something or someone. I, on the other hand, like to follow studies and news that keep an equal approach to opposing political views while making deeper analysis of the situation, instead of rackety nonsense filled with countless images of political figures, celebrities, athletes, and renowned medical professionals. As you can see, I went astray and I did not get lost or eaten alive.

I also try to avoid reading a study or watch a show that is being negatively promoted by other all the time. If there is something important I ought to know, my friends or my family would let me know it anyway.

You should also remember that not everyone who sounds reasonable or who tells you the things you need to hear is knowledgeable. “The Art of Thinking Clearly” by world-class entrepreneur Rolf Dobelli offers a passage about the harmful pattern of regularly watching or listening to the news. In his book, there is a commentary about something he calls ‘chauffeur knowledge’. ‘

In “The Art of Thinking Clearly”, Dobelli tells us the story of a physics professor’s chauffeur who grew to know by heart his lecture on quantum mechanics. One day, the chauffeur said, “It has to be boring giving the same speech each time, Professor. How about I do it for you in Munich? You can sit in the front row and wear my chauffeur’s cap”. Liking the idea, Professor let his driver hold a long lecture on quantum mechanics in front of the audience. Later, a physics professor stood up with a question. The driver recoiled in surprise, but “Never would I have thought that someone from such an advanced city as Munich would ask such a simple question! My chauffeur will answer it” he answered, pointing at the professor who was sitting in the front row.

Well, as the story tells, there are thousands of people in the world that influence our thoughts through hearsay, by using second-hand knowledge. Many people are trying to secure a good position in industry or government by telling impressive yet impossible stories, by passing as the holders of true knowledge. And we, people who pursue the facts, are trying to make a decision by reading these people’s commentaries.

Remembering now the things a former football player and coach, a current football columnist said on the World Cup promotional night in Turkey always puts a smile on my face: “Read what I wrote and learn what football is really about” he said that night. “Aye aye, sir!” I replied. Nothing else I needed to say that blurry night filled with music and other people’s noise.

Well, I actually read what he wrote about football. Realizing that his articles would make me forget what I have already learned so far, I immediately quit following his column. Thus, I once again knew I was right. One should avoid paying attention to anything that is not based on science, experience and unbiased approach.

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