Over the past two decades I’ve frequently been asked why people don’t use the most prepotent studs. I never really had a scientific answer, typically responding that it was for the same reason that folks continue to buy autos with well documented mechanical problems, mutual funds that underperform, or purchase many other products when substantial evidence suggests their inferiority to other brands. The easiest thing to blame that kind of decision making on, was ignorance. But, while ignorance (in the sense of lack of information) may be a contributing factor, it can't explain the poor breeding choices of individuals who have access to information needed to make an informed decision (e.g. The Pointer Breeders' Almanac).
So why? Well, it could be hypothesized that the critical factor in this decision making process is the way the individual processes and uses information. Different folks process information in differing ways, and there are many ways of classifying these differing levels of processing. For the purpose of finding an answer to the question posited, I’ll categorize folks (i.e. adults) into two groups: concrete thinkers and conceptual thinkers. Both groups can handle abstract ideas, but the former only when it can be connected to something concrete. The latter can handle abstractions without that linkage. True understanding and acceptance of such statistical concepts as the Prepotency Index requires proportional reasoning, an indicator of conceptual thinking. If…then reasoning, the foundation of conclusions in The Pointer Breeders’ Almanac likewise requires conceptual thinking.
Egocentricity, in the sense that I will refer to, means seeing things only from one’s own point of view - not being able to step back and see the big picture. We are all egocentric; less so as we mature, but it never totally disappears. Young children are the most egocentric, and at the other end of the spectrum, conceptual thinking adults are the least egocentric. Conceptual thinkers are less egocentric than are concrete thinkers. The egocentric individual relies on his/her own experience and ignores the evidence that demonstrates that their experience is not the norm. An example would be “All of the XXX dogs that I have seen were winners, and I’m going to use XXX as a stud.” The position is taken even though the evidence is that the PI of XXX dogs is low and the PI of other available dogs is much higher.
Research groups have suggested that about two thirds of the population are concrete thinkers. It is assumed that, as a subset of the adult population, the same proportion of field trialers would be concrete thinkers. If this is a valid assumption, then one should expect the situation observed today in terms of utilizing PBA data.
With the above in mind, it was hypothesized that a survey of FTPHP Message Board readers would reveal a majority indicating the best stud dogs as those that sired the most winners without regard to the frequency of breeding. Such a finding would suggest concrete thinking because of the respondee’s inability to handle proportional reasoning -- which is an abstract idea indicating conceptual thinking. Such a survey was taken and 71% of the respondees gave answers indicating concrete thinking (i.e. that the best stud dogs were those that sired the most winners without regard to the frequency of breeding).
It is hoped that the above may explain some of the seemingly illogical actions regarding stud selection. Also, it is hoped that readers realize that the developer of the PI et al, never stated that they, or any other numerical idea, are the final answer to breeding decisions. Those who claim otherwise are demonstrating concrete thinking.
An example of the response of a concrete thinker with comments added in green italics
The names of the bloodlines and names of dogs have been deleted and "x" and "y" substituted because some readers felt that those boodlines and dogs were being discriminated against by the example given.
I would take a xxxx bred dog over the other bloodlines at any given time. The key I have found in my own experience
He is using his own limited experience as opposed to the big picture of the universe of data. Very egocentric and therefore concrete thinking.
with the "xxx dogs" is that they require time from day one. (But regardless of the bloodline, time from day one is of utmost importance!) In competing in trials I have the utmost desire to win, and I believe that going with a xxxx bred dog increases my chances.
He says this even though all data on probability of producing winners is just the opposite.
One can look at the win record of xxxx (dog with nonremarkable PI) and his offspring and cannot help but think that this is one of the best sires of the day.
Thus showing his inability
to conceptualize proportional reasoning.
One could also go to the saying of "sling enough mud against the wall and some will stick". I don't believe this to be the case.
Bound by his own egocentricity & concreteness.
There are way to many sons and daughters of XXXX
that are winning and producing winners to go with
the old saying.
Again showing his inability to conceptualize proportional reasoning.
Part of the key (in my opinion) is trying to cross the "correct" bred female with the XXX lines. I use to raise a lot of YYYY bred dogs and had my most success with breeding to XXXXX bred dogs. This gave me the traits that I was seeking in my breedings.
Again, he is using his own
limited experience as opposed to the big picture of the universe of data.
I guess the correct saying would be "to each his on".
Even if it is based on erronous thinking. Don't bother me with the truth. I've already made up my mind.
Given the choice of trying to pick a winning number from the following two setups (individual is blind folded and can pick one sphere in each setup)
1. a 55 gallon barrel with
numbered small spheres...certain numbers win a million dollars if picked..
200,000 spheres.. 1,000 with winning numbers
2. a gallon bucket with numbered small spheres...certain numbers win a million dollars if picked..
1,000 spheres..100 with winning numbers
The individual in the above example,
if he was consistent with his own thinking, would choose to try
setup 1 because it has ten time the number of winning spheres.