Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Daughery Principle

In the realm of Conventional Wisdom, there are a number of truisms that have not been subjected to empirical testing. One of these is the Daughterty Principle, named after American football coach Duffy Daughery (1915-1987) of Michigan State University. This principle is sometimes also attributed to Darrell Royal (1924- ); hence is sometimes called the Daugherty-Royal Principle. This aphorism in question is: “A tie is like kissing your sister.” Interestingly enough, both evolutionary psychology theory and sociological theory would predict that this familial phenomenon would predict dissatisfaction with that activity. However, it has not been systematically tested; but informal tests of this principle have undoubtedly taken place from time to time primarily in Vermont and West Virginia.

Some intrepid researcher should conduct an empirical study of this type. A simple repeated measurements design might be employed; using familial osculation and extrafamilial osculation as independent variables. There should be appropriate use of counterbalancing to control for the warm-up effect. A serious researcher might look also into possible correlates of hedonic value: attractiveness, age similarity, and so forth.  A possible convention-ready title for this research could be "The Hedonic Value of Familial Osculation: A Test of the Daugherty Principle."

If the results are obtained in the expected direction; and is it consistently replicated, then we can begin to speak of Daugery's Law.

But there are other corrolaries of the Daugherty Principle:

If a tie is like kissing your sister, then what is losing like?

Lou Holtz suggested a comparison to put things in perspective: "They say a tie is like kissing your sister. I guess that is better than kissing your brother."

Finally, it might be helpful to look at things from a non-football perspective.  Historically, the Royal Navy exacted stringent performance standards on officers of flag rank.  For example, Admiral John Byng was executed by firing squad because he "failed to do everything to everything against the enemy" at the Battle of Minorca in 1756, the outcome of which should be regarded as a tie (no decision) rather than a loss.

As for losing, a generation earlier, an Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell managed to run his fleet aground.  They honored him with a dreadful sculpture in Westminister Abbey showing Sir Cloudesley in his birthday suit.

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