Economists Agronomists and Mechanics
Aug 13, 2017
More and more, farmers depend on consultants to help make decisions. They check with economists to figure out what the markets will do to help them decide when to sell their crops. They hire agronomists to walk their fields and tell them what to spray, when to spray, and how many bushels it will gain them. They trust mechanics to advise them on how much money to spend on machinery maintenance and repairs.
Farmers are now given lots of advice, and some of it is almost accurate enough to be useful. The problem is, economists, agronomists and mechanics base their predictions for the future on what has happened in the past. We now know exactly what caused the Great Depression, and get excited about a recession (downturn, correction--whatever the current politically correct term is for "hard times") whenever certain indicators mirror what happened in the 1920s and 1930s. Agronomically, it's easy to match soil tests, rainfall patterns, heat units and hybrid selections to last year's yields to determine exactly why crop performance was good or bad. And as a mechanic, it's easy to tear apart a machine to find a dry bearing or analyze an oil sample so I can say, "Yup, it didn't get enough grease," or, "There's silicon in the oil, which comes from soil dust, which means your air filter failed and your engine got "dusted"."
The problem is that our expertise at accurately analyzing what happened in the past leads us--and our customers--to get overly confident that we can predict the future. We can make educated guesses, but if we're smart we don't make predictions. Predictions are thin ice. One of the synonyms for "prediction" is "prophesy." And in the Old Testament, the guideline was that if even one of a prophet's predictions were inaccurate, they were to be taken outside the city walls and stoned.
I'm not sure how economists and agronomists would react, but I'd be pretty cautious about predicting the mechanical future of a machine if my customers adhered to that sort of Old Testament standard.