Often Wrong, But Never In Doubt

One time while I was working for the Baltimore Orioles, we had a Baseball Operations meeting about improving the team and we were discussing potential acquisitions. (We had more than one such meeting in my six years there.)

During this particular meeting I was asked my opinion about a specific player by someone with impeccable credentials. I replied that I didn’t know enough about that player and had to study him first. This person then said, “No, you have to give me an answer now.” The President/CEO of the team then said, “Often wrong, but never in doubt, huh?”

The scourge of social media has led to a world where WAY too many people are often wrong, but never in doubt. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean that anyone else has to listen. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences, freedom from being criticized when the speaker is factually incorrect.

Not everything is just a matter of opinion. Just because someone doesn’t know the facts about a specific situation doesn’t mean those facts don’t exist. (Huxley: “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”) Paraphrasing famous writer Isaac Asimov, “A democracy doesn’t mean that Person A’s ignorance equals Person B’s knowledge.”

In one of our recent utility bills was this note, “Carbon dioxide equivalent emissions are about 22% lower for residences using natural gas than for all-electric homes.” OK, I don’t know the source for that data. Still, if you’ve been following the news about a certain US state in the northeast that wants to ban the use of natural gas in new homes, you can understand why I wrote that, especially in the context of this post.

For the nth time, blind adherence to ANY ideology is a road to ruin.


I’ve been meaning to post the link to this piece for awhile. It’s titled, “A Former Pilot On Why Autonomous Vehicles Are So Risky.” The former pilot is Missy Cummings, who left her engineering professorship at Duke University in 2021 to work for the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) in a temporary position as a senior safety advisor.

Here is the first of five questions she answered for the piece:


We are told that today’s cars, with their advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), are fundamentally safer than ever before. True?

Cummings: There is no evidence of mitigation. At NHTSA we couldn’t answer the question that you’re less likely to get in a crash—no data. But if you are in an accident, you’re more likely to be injured, because people in ADAS-equipped cars are more likely to be speeding.


That last sentence is telling, but that thought has been expressed in this blog and elsewhere. People drive less carefully BECAUSE the cars are supposedly safer. The law of unintended consequences strikes again.


The data I’m about to show comes from this piece by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. It reports data on net migration by county from 2016 to 2020. Every year, the US Census tracks movement (and other data) throughout the country by surveying a broad sample of households and records: Among other information, they track their current and previous counties of residence. With those data, the Census calculates a 5-year estimate of the difference between inflows and outflows of residents from county to county. This is called net migration.

A table in the piece shows all US states (and the District of Columbia) ranked by highest ratio of counties with positive to negative net migration. As written in the piece, the data do not show where the new residents came from (or went) or their demographic characteristics. Two of the three states at the top are states with which I have some familiarity:






Of course, Delaware has only three counties, but they all showed positive net migration from 2016 to 2020. By definition, that means people moved to Delaware during this period. Here are the three states at the bottom, not counting DC since it is not a state and doesn’t really have any counties:


Massachusetts (50th of 50 states)

New Jersey



Twenty-seven of the fifty states had more counties with positive than negative net migration. Surprisingly to me, California was one of those states, although just barely ranking 26th. Of course, if two of three counties had 1% positive net migration and the third had 5% negative net migration, then the three counties probably lost population in total unless they had an exceedingly high birth rate.

Maybe I’ve mentioned this before, maybe not. I have been a demographics nerd for a LONG time. When I was 11 or 12, a friend of the family with a high-ranking job at the US Department of Commerce, of which the Census Bureau is a part, gave me a copy of The Statistical Abstract of the United States. I devoured that book. Obviously, the photo below doesn’t show that volume, but it might show the last year the book was available in a print edition.



Even this book shows a little wear and tear. Some interests never completely disappear.







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4 thoughts on “Often Wrong, But Never In Doubt

  1. “People drive less carefully BECAUSE the cars are supposedly safer.”

    As a motorcyclist, I have believed that for a long time. Then when you add in all the other distractions, cellphone, infotainment, stuffing food into your piehole, it’s even worse. Nobody likes MY solution: move the drivers seat to in front of the front bumper. I’ll bet it would eliminate tailgating, zipping thru traffic like a squirrel on crack, and almost all lousy driving habits. Folks would start driving like a “little blue haired lady”. Those that didn’t? Well, Darwin is waiting for you.


    1. Many thanks, DDM.

      The long overdue move to have an ignition interlock to make it difficult to start a car while under the influence is a good idea. I would make the drivers seat a Faraday cage, which would make it impossible for the driver to use their phone while driving.


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