I like statistics. I like them, because a good data set can give you information.
I hate the Social Sciences. I hate them, because they abuse the definitions of Statistics. Sure, they're good about some of the fundamentals, and to be frank, the fundamentals can help a serious inquiry to move forward. In the hands of Social Scientists, however, the fundamentals of Statistical Science are transformed, from observation to fact.
Let's take an example of the value of statistics; you have a fair coin flip (.pdf) , on one side Heads, on the other, Tails. "For tossed coins, the classical assumptions of independence with probability 1/2 are pretty solid."
Inference and deduction are two extremely different fields. People who try to infer from deduction fail, since the rules of inference are distinct from the rules of deduction. The opposite is true in most cases. That is, you cannot claim deduction from inference, while you can claim inference from deduction. A colour is not necesarily Yellow. Yellow is necessarily a colour. It is necessary that Yellow is a colour, just as it is necessary that that "2" is a number. "2" as anything else requires an outside determination of meaning that is not implied by the necessary meaning of 2 is 2. 2 is 2 is sufficient and necessary. Just as we define the rules of examination of things, as either being sufficient or necessary, we view the science of Statistics, and the limited fields of inquiry under which are studies, as being the result of both sufficient and necessary conditions.
How reason plays into all this is played out on television screens all across the world. There is no assertion of logic, only of observation. Which, sadly, is how most Important Social Science studies are reported; there is no statistical evidence that points to dis-proving the thesis of the object of the study. That is, there is no attempt to show that the evidence, supposedly evidenced by the data set, does anything more than report random noise.
Take the coin toss exercise above. We can demonstrate all kinds of conditions that may affect the coin toss, and yet, if it is a fair coin, none of these exercises demonstrate nothing more than would could be, at best, described as conditional effects. If you try to cheat, you can. Does Capitalism "Kill People"? Well, people are being killed, others die. Inasmuch as capitalism is the dominant form of market formation, blaming Capitalism for death is as likely as blaming growing old. (And frankly, growing old is a much more supportable hypothesis than capitalism. I don't know anyone living in a Socialist state over the age of three hundred years.)
Identity is valid, in pre-existing states, as a normal staring point for inference. But critics of Frege have made more important mistakes, than that that which was attempted to be demonstrated, that is, as much as any thing is defined as that thing, looking further into a sense of intuition of what that thing demonstrates, is an illogical extension, that can't be supported by the thing itself.
Triangles aren't square, no matter how distorted the view of the triangle.
Social Sciences aren't limited in the way that criticisms of Frege have been. Like Frege, this is not a technical work. Understanding the tools of technique, and failing to use them, isn't sufficient to undermine the theory of the essay. That this essay can be criticized for failing to include the technical tools to examine the thesis of this paper, doesn't do more than polish the facets of this paper. Having a critical basis for examining the Social Sciences doesn't impute that they are valid, since this paper doesn't take any individual paper and explore the weaknesses of that particular paper. This paper only wants to examine the general trends of what passes for Science, under the heading of Social Science, and draw your attention to their general failings. Their procedural failings.
All I'm attempting to do here, now, is point out that a lot of the failings of what attempts to pass itself off as Science is nothing, if mere imputation of dominant Modes, Means and Standard Deviations. Coming off with an SD isn't more that mere manipulation of the data set. I can ask myself a question, answer it, and come up with a test of significance that approaches the 99-point-nine percent level. Is it statistics?
The more I hear chatter about the effects of "this" or "that", I'm reminded of the case that how you define the question more often than not, defines the answer. In Statistics, we call this a confounding error. The questions you ask are more important than the answers you get. Garbage in, garbage out. If you don't understand the value of your questions, how can you begin to measure the value of the answers you receive in response?
"Is this yellow or blue?"
Simple question. The data set should be simple, too. But do we ever examine why the respondent answers "yellow," when the answer is clearly "blue"? No. Too rarely do we examine the structures of how question are asked, and why they are answered the way they are. We never ask the "check" question. "Are you colour blind?"
And so it goes. We get more and more information, but none of it is formatted in a way that follows a simple model:
Is it true?
Is it reflective of the intention of the question?
Is it verifiable?
Nope, we live in a Time of Science, and everyone is publishing Science every day. Does the Science advance an agenda? Then, let's give it more money. Does the Science offend anyone? Let's defund.
P.K. wasn't admired by a lot of his peers. His peers had standards that P.K. often violated. But, P.K. admitted it. It was true. Without the limitations of the strict constructions of "science," a lot of what has become realized as Scientific Discovery wouldn't today exist.
We should ask ourselves, how do we know that ObamaCare will in fact lower Health Care Costs? The answer is, we don't ask. Those of us who engage in investments, operating businesses, hiring and firing employees know instinctively that increases in bureaucracy inherently means increases in costs a natural consequence of government involvement at any stage in the process of living, creating and doing or simply, being, are being joshed out of these criticisms with logos such as "Change," 'Hope," or "the Ninety-Nine."
Strongly worded chants don't change fundamentals. I aver, that if you have any kind of sentient intellect, that the mere chanting of words would, on their face, seem more hideously primitive, and anti-science, than the opposite...criticism. The mantra of Obama isn't change, it's tribalism. It's not a move to a "post-Racial" nation, but a return to primitive differences. That which we don't understand, we fear.
How does this advance the Nation?
What is the cheapest, and best way to lower your health care cost exposure?
Come on, you know what it is. But what do you give up, in terms of your human experience, in order to simply reduce your costs? What is the opportunity cost of living to an hundred and twenty?
50, 60, or 70 years of a good life.