On Standards and Fairness – Religion and Politics

Recently it was made clear to me that standards without a creating or maintaining authority with commensurate responsibility are generally not meritorious.

The primary reason for this is that, standards lacking these “facets” can be changed or have bits of them ignored or bits added, more or less at the whim of the person claiming to apply them.

Without an “owner,” there is nobody to hold folks to account when they claim to uphold the standard, but fail to do so.

To be clear, the owner of a given standard, may be neither the creator, nor even a single individual. That being said in order for most standards to be beneficial, they must have a “standard bearer” who is responsible for the “care and feeding” of the standard in question. Even if the standard is technically maintained by “consensus,” it is generally true that somebody must actually decide that the standard has changed.

Further, it must be understood that often, it is physically impossible to make changes to a standard retroactive. As such, data that result from a standard before it is changed, must be understood to be incomparable to data collected and showing as resultant to the standard after that change.

So when you measure obesity, by way of example, differently today, than say, twenty or more years ago, saying that, “More people are obese today than were twenty years ago.” Is not a particularly meaningful statement (even if you try to make some sort of “adjustment” to one or the other definition).

If you have similarly granular before and after data, you can use either the old or the standard to make such a determination if it is applied to both sets of data. The problem is, many people make no such comparison. Rather they appear to compare the data gathered under the old standard, using that standard, to data collected under the new standard, without regard to variances and differences in the standards.

This says nothing of the differences in other standards that also may play a part in measurement according to the “main” standard. This is obviously a factor as well.

But at least a standard for something like obesity typically has some sort of “curator.” It’s possible that it technically has more than one. For example, medical doctors may have one, and dietitians another. Nevertheless, so long as you specify the “gatekeeper” for the standard you’re using, you should be able to make “apples-to-apples” comparisons so long as the standard has not changed over time (this, by the way, is entirely unlikely).

That being said, there are things being stated as if some standard were being applied when in fact, no single standard is actually being used.

My favorite example is that of what is “fair.”

As was recently pointed out, there are assumptions that people make, based on how they feel, as to what is and is not fair.

For example, when two people are offered basically the same opportunities, but end up with different outcomes, it is assumed by a good many people that the results are “unfair.” The reason for this appears to be little more than emotion. The folks in question assume that just because two people had the same opportunities, should automatically mean that they have the same results.

The problem is, what one does with the things one is given, generally matters even more than what opportunities one is given.

Don’t believe me? Imagine that two people have been given different opportunities. Looking at the one’s opportunities, it appears they have been given a great many, yet the person never seems to achieve or accomplish much of anything.

Looking at the other, it seems he or she was given very little opportunity, yet that one excels, he or she manages things that appear all but impossible to those looking on.

This has happened many times.

The question one might ask is, “How can it be that one with relatively few, and not so strong, opportunities manages to do things that a person offered a great many, often very robust ones cannot?”

There are likely multiple answers to this question, but if one consider “help from others” as part of the “opportunity equation,” the person with fewer opportunities, must have done or been something the other did not do or was not.

There is, of course, the old “fallback” of “luck.” The reality is though, even luck cannot make it so you keep what you gain for long.

The point here, is that what you do plays quite a large part in what you are and what you gain.

Is that “fair?” Well, I guess that depends on the origin and definition of your standard for fairness.

In my mind, this is entirely fair, in the minds of a great many, it is assuredly not.

The implication is that we carry substantially different definitions or standards of fairness.

The point of any converstation like this should be, in my view, to get people to think about what they believe and why they believe it.

This discussion is no different, and I can say that because I’m the one doing the talking.

My intent is to get you to consider your definition and resultant standard for what is fair.

Just because it seems like, or more correctly, you feel like something is fair or unfair, doesn’t mean it really is or is not so.

The end of this is that, if you create your own definition of anything (in this case, fairness) and ignore any standard and the reasons for its existence, you’re likely to be horribly disappointed. Further, you’re likely to create a standard that will not allow you to be successful. This is because your standard will likely have underlying expectations that will rarely or even never be met. I call these the “if only” expectations.

Having said all this, allow me to encourage you to a course of action. Don’t just “feel like” something is “fair or unfair.” Seek a standard. Try to decide on a definition of fair or unfair that is consistent with your core beliefs, rather than one that is based on feelings.

Okay, out of time and “space.” As such, allow me to wish you the best of times, and thank you for reading.

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