- TWIL (This Week I Learned)
This week I contemplated illumination.
A series of small encounters led me to start contemplating how we get what we need to make decisions.
During my lifetime, we have undergone a “data revolution” — it literally began when I was one year old, in 1968 — some days I think that’s amazing and other days not so much.
Maybe the idea is that I am amazed when I control the data and less amazed when the data controls me?
Perhaps it’s a graph where the more mystical and unintelligible the data is, the less impressed I am. The more clear, illuminating, and helpful, that’s where the actual magic lies?
“The scientist is not a person who gives the right answers, he is one who asks the right questions.” — Claude Levi Strauss
Surgical statistics are still in their feeble infancy. Many eminent men affect to despise them on account of the worthless character of some of the first efforts in that direction; but if it is true that figures illy digested do often lie, the same is the case with conclusions not based on figures. The truth is this: statistics are no substitute for common reason, nor common reason for statistics. — The Medical Examiner (Chicago), 1873
Statistics are no substitute for judgement. — Henry Clay, English Economist of the Bank of England, 1930
We must be careful not to confuse data with the abstractions we use to analyze them. — William James
Today’s child is bewildered when he enters the 19th century environment that still characterizes the educational establishment where information is scarce but ordered and structured by fragmented, classified patterns subjects, and schedules. — Marshall McLuhan
I often feel tossed about in life when I have lost my locus of control — When I don’t feel like my decisions are coming from my core. It’s almost a feeling of loosing my balance.
Before the “data revolution” liars and scoundrels used other methods to try to trip us up; some of these are still used today.