There are some things that you can judge just by sight. And that’s important, because you need to be able to judge things by sight. In high-risk, high-speed situations, like combat or when you’re driving, these split-second, on-sight decision are of critical importance. But they’re not just useful in those situations. Malcolm Gladwell has a book, Blink, about how all our accumulated knowledge is useful for judging things on sight. He gives examples of trained art critics being able to detect forgeries without knowing why they had to be fake, when there was nothing consciously visible about them that indicated that they were fakes. It’s amazing stuff.
But the thing is, this sort of ability works a lot less than people think it does. I once heard a wonderful story about a speaker at a business conference. The speaker asked attendees at the conference how many of them could judge whether an applicant was suitable within the first minute of the interview. Around the room, hands went up as various businesspeople prided themselves on their discerning skills. The speaker then told the room that everyone who raised their hand should be reported to HR: it’s impossible to judge someone’s character without profiling them in the space of a minute.
Scientific studies have shown time and again that almost no one can tell fine wine from the cheap stuff. And yet another situation where this is true is tyre inflation. You can’t tell on sight whether tyres are properly inflated. But a tyre pressure monitoring system is an effective and reliable way to judge whether your tyres are pumped up to the right level. So don’t muck around running your hands over your tyres, and then tricking yourself into thinking that you know whether they need pumping. Get a TPMS, and use state-of-the-art tyre sensors to give you a reading you can trust.