East Bay View (a blog about several things)

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

A simplistic base for thinking about statistics

If scientism is essential to modernity, statistics is science's acknowledgement of modernity. Pre-modern society deferred to gods, kings and fate. Modern society is no longer driven by obedience to these authorities, it's driven by individual desires: for things, ideas, opportunities, data. (Of course there were individual desires in pre-modernity, and gods and kings and fate are still with us; once again, we're talking large-scale driving forces.) As democracy and secularisation drew attention to variations in ways of thinking, causality was no longer so straightforward. What statistics offers is the idea that we can deal with a non-deterministic world by using deterministic processes. In fact, the same is true for science in general; statistics merely foregrounds the contradiction.



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