Stat Puppet

Wrote to Neil Remington Abramson, concerning some quotes discovered when reformatting the dissertation:

…statistics appears to enjoy a unique status comparable to having one’s head shaved and one’s clothes burned.

Schein (undated; contained in Kolb, Rubin and McIntyre, l979, 12)

I took something about four years ago called the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality [Inventory] test. And the test came back saying that I was a paranoid schizophrenic. And I said to the guy conducting the test, “That’s very interesting. What is it based on?” And he said to me, “Well, for example, here the question says `Do you think people are talking about you?’ and you’ve marked yes. And in this other section it says, `Do you think people discuss you behind your back?’ and you’ve marked yes.” So I said, “Well, they do talk about me, and they do talk about me behind my back. I hear it. People say, `That’s Stephen King. Did you see him?’”

Stephen King, as interviewed by Marvel (l991)

The related references being here.

Some previous comments on qualitative and quantitative perceptions may be found here and here. Neil commented as follows:

I used to do a lot of stats. I was trained to. I’ve given it up for phenomenology & hermeneutics, going from social sciences to humanities,I guess.

The trouble with stats is that what you end up writing about – your hupotheses and conclusions – is controlled by the significant results, rather than by what you might think was important to say. And so, in a sense, you end up working for the statistics program rather than the program working for you.

Lyotard wrote a philosophy book about how a symptom of the wrongness of 20th Century life was that humans ended up working for machines. He called it The Inhuman: Reflections on Time.

It’s important to be “on time.” A mark of the civilized, in our culture. And so we watch, and our watches control our movements in time. It’s important to be “in time” as well.

I wonder if puppets would wonder if they had free will? What would they make of the strings?


About brucelarochelle
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