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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Megan Poe
Opinion Editor

My name is Megan Poe and I’m an English (writing concentration) and Philosophy double major at Northern. My concurrent experience with being published in and interning for literary magazines has landed...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Opinion — Its okay to outgrow your college friends
Opinion — It's okay to outgrow your college friends
Megan Poe April 12, 2024

Awful regulatory climate or illusory correlation?

Do business closings in Marquette reveal an “awful” regulatory climate generated by the current administration? The Thursday, Feb. 27 edition of the North Wind published an opinion piece making the claim that recent business closings are a result of “regulatory regimes” in our nation’s capital.  However, the writer does not provide evidence for this claim.

Mary Pelton-Cooper
Mary Pelton-Cooper

So, we might wonder how our thinking produces such strong opinions without evidence. Illusory correlations are assumptions that two variables are related when either they are not related at all, or the relationship is weak, or the relationship is in the opposite direction of the assumed correlation.

We develop these illusory correlations when we look for evidence to support preconceptions.  This is an example of confirmation bias, a common source of biased interpretation.

Humans develop implicit (unconscious) and explicit (conscious) preconceived associations that are influenced by the strength of the emotion these associations evoke.  The stronger the emotion, the stronger the tendency to preserve the preconceived association in the face of disconfirming evidence.

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To draw conclusions about observed data, the scientific method requires that we test the null hypothesis. That means that we carefully consider the possibility that the events may not be correlated with each other at all, or that although they occur together, one does not cause the other.

Let’s take another look at the evidence.  I moved to Marquette in the 1970s.  We ate lunch in the Bonanza restaurant after church because it was the least expensive, decent restaurant available.  Since the 1970s the Marquette lunch crowd has had the pleasure of dining at many new restaurants including Jeffrey’s, Sweetwater Café, Doncker’s, New York Deli, Border Grill and five others within walking distance of Bonanza.

Now, after over 30 years, Bonanza has closed its doors. Might the closing of Bonanza be due in part to successful competition from other fine restaurants?The writer cites the closing of JCPenney stores. Is that a result of an awful regulatory climate, or might it be due to the competition from Kohl’s, Walmart and Target?

Walker Furniture closed.  Might that be the result of a family retiring from a successful business? Or might it be due in part to the competition from the new Art Van furniture store?

A healthy economic climate generates change in business choices. When I moved here the JCPenney was a downtown store that did not provide air conditioning in the summer until after the opening of Shopko. My friends believed the events had a direct cause and effect relationship.

Did JCPenney upgrade its climate control in order to meet the competition, or were they required to upgrade it to come into compliance with government regulations for customer safety? We don’t have data to confirm either conclusion.

We have enjoyed many new choices in recent years. The writer of the opinion piece blames President Obama and Obamacare for business closings.  Might we also notice the current prosperity in Marquette and wonder if the current administration is actually promoting a growing economy? Or might we wonder if the particular business openings and closings in Marquette are not directly correlated with Washington politics?

 

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