There was a surprising number of brave or bonkers people standing in the weak sunshine when I arrived at the cemetery yesterday. Some were rarin’ to go – with or without cleats – to brave the icy path. And some of us thought coffee sounded like a much better choice. After all, broken bones can really ruin a day. But then we ran up against the Abilene Paradox.
What is that? It is a situation where each individual is less than enthused about a group decision, but all go along with it because no one wants to be a spoilsport. Is the risk of falling more important than the risk of being seen as non-cooperative? For the most tragic example of this paradox, see how decisions were made during the 1986 NASA Challenger launch.
However, it does not always end tragically. The brave, bold, and bonkers TPW walkers all set off along the path, some using the now universal sign for black ice: Flapping arms up and down wildly while attempting to stay upright, a warning to those behind.
I am very happy to report that no harm was done. We all finished our walks at different distances, each deciding her or his own tolerance for ice. For some of us, even during a pandemic, coffee with a friendly walker is by far the best group decision in a dangerous time.