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The Psychology of Judging Or, I See Nude People!

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348 – February, 2018

by Caroline Coile

Once upon a time there lived a vain Emperor whose only worry in life was to dress in elegant clothes…Two tailors eventually took advantage of his vanity, selling him a piece of goods said to be made of cloth “so light and fine that it looks invisible. As a matter of fact it is invisible to anyone who is too stupid and incompetent to appreciate its quality.” The Emperor jumped at the chance; not only would he be getting an extraordi- nary suit, but a measure by which he could determine if others were ignorant and incompetent.

He sent his prime minister to check the work’s progress, but the man couldn’t see anything. The prime minister knew if he admitted this, he’d be labeled incompetent and lose his job. “What a marvelous fabric!” he said instead. Even the Emperor couldn’t see the fabric, but he too claimed he could, and he paraded through town.

The townspeople said, loud enough for the others to hear: “Look at the Emperor’s new clothes. They’re beautiful!” They all contin- ued to extol the virtues of the new clothing. Except for one child, who said, “He’s naked!” Only then did others pipe up: “He’s right! The Emperor is naked!”

How many times have you seen a top winning dog and wondered if you were just too ignorant or incompetent to appreciate its virtues? How many times have you seen the heavily promoted dog go over the unknown (but to your eye, better) dog and wondered what you were missing? How often do you take the word of a celebrity-status agent that their newest dog is the greatest ever, even though it stands there with what you (obviously mistakenly) thought was a serious fault per the standard? And how often do you think not only other exhibitors, but judges, fall victim to the Emperor’s clothes syndrome?

Let’s face it: At top levels, like Best in Show, many judges have seldom, if ever, judged all the breeds in their ring. They may have never judged the big winner’s breed; perhaps, if it’s from a rare breed, they may have only seen a handful in their life. Yet they don’t hesitate pointing to it as being a better representative of its breed than are the other six group winners. Of course this will, and should, happen sometimes. But what are the odds of it happening, over and over, maybe hundreds of times for the mega-star dogs, based solely on the dog’s merit?

Click here to read the complete article
348 – February, 2018

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