This week North Adams Regional Hospital closed. Unless things change, health and safety in my area will suffer. Everyone thinks this was a bad outcome, including the people who decided to close the hospital. To a lot of people it was obviously a bad decision. We have no hospital. What more do you need to know? Fire the bastards!

It is a bad outcome, but was it a bad decision? They’re different. Good decisions can lead to bad outcomes. (Sometimes bad decisions lead to good outcomes, too, like betting the family car at the craps table—a bonehead move even if you happen to win.)

It bothers me when people assume they would have made a better decision just because they don’t like the outcome. It's good everyone's got an opinion, but why are some people so certain? 

Here are some good reasons to believe you would have made a better decision, or done a better job, than someone else:

  • You have more information.
  • You have more expertise with this particular kind of decision.
  • You are smarter.
  • Your motivations are more pure.

In the case of the hospital closing, a group of experts, who are smart people, have privileged access to a ton of complex information. It’s possible that their motives were impure. From what I’ve read, I doubt it. The real problem seems to be inadequate governmental support for small hospitals. But I won’t pretend to know and that’s the point—I don’t know. (I would have a better idea if they were a little more forthcoming, however.)

If you want to criticize someone else’s decision, go for it. But don’t start from the premise that if the outcome is bad, the decision was bad. Or that everyone is stupid except you.

Follow me on Twitter. 

Most Recent Posts from Everybody Is Stupid Except You

Advice For Teachers: How To Make Daily Quizzes Work

What to do, and what NOT to do, if you’re thinking of giving daily quizzes

Maybe Lecture Fluency Isn't So Misleading

A failure to conceptually replicate (one) effect of lecture fluency

What Artistic Pigeons Tell Us About Superstitious Parents

Parents think there's only one way to make their baby happy.