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Critical Thinking and Polytrack

Turfway's first meet on the polytrack surface saved horses, which is really what it's all about. The posted fractions and final times were slower. The second meet on polytrack changed to a faster surface. Again, good for horses. The fractions and final times were faster that time ‘round. I'm happy to report that the pace/final time energy distribution algorithms have not changed. In a perfect world, Keeneland's polytrack results will follow suit. It's very early, but we're on the case. As you would expect, the polytrack bias drums are beating in the distance. From what I've read at DRF we're definitely headed for "rubber" biases now. I'm fine with that as long as about 10 other variables are included in the mix.

I still receive emails from dirt track bias true believers. The basic story goes that I'm missing something and should check again. In other words, track bias is real and I'm not. I gently remind them that I never said track biases do not exist. Instead I said that a single bit of information that is used as a predictor of future outcomes cannot be divorced from the environment from which it lives, which is basic General Systems Stuff. And, too, we don't want to get caught in a critical thinking fallacy called the non sequitur. While we're at it let's see if we can use critical thinking to solve another handicapping dilemma. This one is called confirmatory bias. It's a deadly one. Fanatics of all religions - and that includes the church kind and the political kind - are mesmerized by this fallacy. It seems human beings have a deep abiding love for ignoring information that does not support their world view/belief system. Handicapping is no different. This fallacy leads researchers down the road to perdition. I know because I've been there.

Back when I began researching the Super Sprinter I was blinded for a while by this fallacy. I came to realize that the data must speak to me and not the other way around. In other words, I believed a super sprinter exists and I was hell bent on finding it. That hell bent attitude caused me to imperceptibly ignore evidence that did not support my belief. But I could not ignore the money I was losing. That was the wakeup call. I learned the hard way that a confirmatory bias fallacy ultimately leads to failure. I'm happy to report that I changed my ways and the Super Sprint appeared from the data and then was named. I learned that naming something and then going about finding it is not the correct course of action - let the data name it. Another handicapping conundrum solved with critical thinking.