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Monday, January 19, 2009

Theory of Generalization

The danger of scientific modeling is the theory of generalization. Through inductive reasoning, we induce a theory based on sample data hoping the sample represents the entire population. That’s right hope - there is no accurate fool proof way to measure the representative-ness of a sample to the whole population. I am of the opinion that no two people are alike…having said that how can a representative sample actually represent a true population. This major assumption in science today limits science. Still, however, scientists make grave generalities attempting to solve population wide issues.

Based on these generalizations, we assume a tested pill is suitable to almost everyone, we assume that all objects obey laws of physics (hence arose quantum physics), we assume that children from broken homes most likely will drop out, we assume that stimulus package will boost the failing economy etc etc. Our assumptions in many instances have gone wrong and have caused fatal results albeit in unique cases nevertheless fatal. In other words, when we assume the sample represents the population we are missing out on the details that make up the variety in the population and just deal with certain key generic variables that can be measured (practically!). This assumption can sometimes prove costly and ineffective. Hence when the scientists are satisfied about a medicine being approved, all they care about is, it should test positive in 95 or 99 out of 100 patients…now imagine if the same drug is administered to 100s of 100s of people. Then there will be more than 100 people whose body will not accept the drug due to unique conditions and may cause severe repercussions. This illusory ubiquitous-ness can be attributed to the generalization of a sample and the downplaying of the limitations. From the scientist’s perspective, they can care less about the freaks of nature. It is a statistic, an anomaly in the curve chart; it is not a human who’s dying!!

Why then science is dubbed as the panacea of all problems and the abode of rational thinkers in spite of their limitations? In my opinion, science has become its own mundane religion with blind irrational followers occupying different priestly orders. In this religion – their false ego is God! Indeed, knowledge is power, they think they have the knowledge and the power…this is the biggest illusion of all!

Hare Krishna

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