Keith Vorkink, a finance professor in the BYU Marriott School of Management, discussed the challenges of learning how to make correct judgments in the face of uncertainty at Tuesday's BYU Devotional.
Sharing a story of a white-water rafting experience as a young Boy Scout, Vorkink recalled how his leaders and friends came to an incorrect and incomplete conclusion about how he had escaped a standing wave that had knocked his father out of the raft and left Vorkink stranded beneath a waterfall.
"Like this experience, we face many situations as helper, observer or participant where we can become misled or just make a mistake assessing the true causes of the outcomes in our lives," Vorkink said. "Fear, insecurity, the distractions of the world around us and an overwhelming number of voices can combine to confuse us and keep us from drawing the right conclusions about real causes and real effects."
Vorkink also discussed how we may become confused about making a choice when we focus more on the outcome of a decision or action instead of the cause of that decision or action.
"Satan’s plan confounded cause and effect in that his plan would save all mankind, the desired outcome, but without the development that was central to God’s plan, which would be the real cause of our eternal life," said Vorkink.
Vorkink explained that another one of Satan's tools is his ability to make us believe that correlation is the same as a causation, often it’s through unobserved or omitted information.
"In many cases we will never be given all of the information to determine causality," Vorkink said. "What we do not observe may be a key driver of the outcome. Satan lures us into the need of trying to explain all behavior and his offered conclusions lead us away from seeing others as God does."
Referring to a talk given by President James E. Faust, Vorkink shared that the Lord has provided a tool to help individuals identify causal relationships and correct spiritual inferences: the Holy Ghost.
"As President Faust stated, 'the Holy Ghost helps us to see the real causes of real effects and he also tells us how we can qualify for this gift, through our striving to obey the commandments and by following the counsel of our living prophets.'"
Next Devotional: Erin Holmes, BYU School of Family Life
The next BYU Devotional address will be given by Erin Holmes, professor in the BYU School of Family Life, on Tuesday, Apr. 4, at 11:05 a.m., in the Marriott Center.
Her remarks will be broadcast live on BYUtv and BYUtv.org, KBYU-TV 11, Classical 89 FM and BYUradio.