‘Florida Man’ Raked Over Logical Idea

Supported by Greenhaven Road Capital, finding value off the beaten path.


FYI, this man suggests cooling the waters around a hurricane using the United States Navy and maybe even using the United States Air Force to “fly some planes around it and maybe get it going the opposite way.”

He’s right. The NOAA website lists three ingredients for hurricanes; warm water, moist air, and converging winds. Change the water and the air and, viola, the hurricane can make the turn and head out to sea.

He’s right, but he proposes is impossibble. To cool a swimming pool takes about 1,000 pounds of ice per degree. Cooling a section of ocean is a job that not even the Navy Seabees could engineer.

Even though he’s right.

Which gets us to the point, great solutions may not be possible solutions.

Lately we’ve studied at a lot of marketers because their solution sets are universally possible and sometimes great. Marketers propose the opposite of this guy. Instead of cooling the ocean they stretch the imagination.

Rory Sutherland asks why we make trains faster when we could make them more enjoyable. Hans Rosling wonders why we send helicopters to disasters instead of better plumbing. Grethen Rubin had a friend that imporved her commute not by driving faster but in listening to podcasts and books.

Some decision mistakes come from what Sutherland writes is a “broken binoculars” approach. Businesses use too much market research and economic logic in their decisions. There’s another mistake we make too, choosing to change the physical world instead of the psychological one.

Physics is hard, change requires arranging atom. Psychology is easier, change requires arranging ideas.

In the physical world cooling an ocean is impossible. In the psychological world convincing people it’s possible happens all the time.

  • Physics is market fundamentals. Psychology is the Common Knowledge Game as explained by Ben Hunt.
  • Hooligans emerging from bars are loud, but Stevyn Colgan found the solution is psychological, not thicker windows.
  • Poor market research is numbers on a spreadsheet, good market research might have saved Nokia.

Part-of-the-reason physics gets used more than psychology is that physics is easy to see. What we measure, matters. What we see is all there is.

On his podcast with Bill Simmons, Zach Lowe made this point about NBA player Nikola Jokić. “He’s huge, he gets every rebound, he gets deflections…some pick-and-roll play will turn him around, he’ll get embarrassed. His bloopers on defense are going to look worse than anyone else’s.”

Looking at bloopers is the wrong metric just like considering physical change is the wrong metric for new behaviors. The sabermetrics changes in baseball, basketball, hockey (maybe), and football (someday) were merely switches in how we count something. Jokić is in the NBA not because scouts got better at counting but because they got better at seeing.

‘Florida man’ didn’t not have a good idea but he did have a logical one. The trouble is we all have a bit of ‘Florida man’ in us. We think about logical answers and think about easy to see answers (physics) instead of digging around, being curious, and finding something a bit better.

Thanks for reading. If you liked this, you might like my email of stories It’s all about arranging – and rearranging ideas. Subscribe here.

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