The following commentary does not necessarily reflect the views of AgWeb or Farm Journal Media. The opinions expressed below are the author's own.
What’s on John’s Mind? John’s exclusive commentary tackles the latest topics in agriculture news, giving you a fresh perspective.
I'm recording this John's World right in the middle of what seems sure to become an epic weather catastrophe - Hurricane Harvey. The insane amounts of rain already dumped on coastal Texas could be matched by even more to come.
While I certainly don't doubt the reports, our lack of rain for the last two months makes it hard to truly absorb the scale of the disaster.
Economists and psychologists call this the availability heuristic. It means the facts that are closest to us and easiest to see sway our opinions and judgment more.
We saw this effect in the reaction to the USDA and Farm Journal crop reports. With the exception of places like Minnesota, which is looking at a very good crop, most of us looked out the kitchen window and protested, "The crop isn't there!"
I could list examples like climate change or solar power expansion as well.
Unless we can see it ourselves, we have a hard time using numbers and even other visual data to believe what is going on.
Most of us have been aware of this "backyarditis," but another trend will make it more pronounced.
De-legitimizing media, government agencies, and academic experts as fake news or corporate shills means we are closing off communication channels that can balance our availability bias.
If the USDA is unfairly and inaccurately condemned as corrupt or manipulated, we will be limited to what we can see with our own eyes to inform our market decisions.
Or worse yet, we could buy into dubious rumors or outright scams. The same goes for everything from weather forecasts to sports scores.
Dismissing information that doesn't fit with our version of reality as fake won't help us cope with reality when it comes crashing through our beliefs.
It really is raining feet of water in Texas; the corn drop is much bigger than it looks from here; and the Arctic is melting.
The safest approach seems me to be to assume bad news is real until proven otherwise.
Spoken like a big government loving liberal.
The USDA or any other gov organization is always above reproach to them. Don't think for yourself just be a good sheep and listen to us. BS