Only empirical evidence counts

Michael Stevens, a philosopher, writing at Aeon: Indeed, I conjecture, modern science arose in the 17th century, in the course of the so-called Scientific Revolution, precisely because it stumbled upon the extraordinary motivating power of ‘only empirical evidence counts’ – a story I tell in my book The Knowledge Machine (2020). For thousands of years, […]

What “evidence-based” thinking leaves out

A few loosely related items I was reading today… Zeynep Tufekci makes the case against election forecasts, and says this: This is where weather and electoral forecasts start to differ. For weather, we have fundamentals — advanced science on how atmospheric dynamics work — and years of detailed, day-by-day, even hour-by-hour data from a vast […]

Judgment and wisdom

Two definitions of judgment… First, from psychology: The term judgment refers to the cognitive aspects of our decision-making process. Judgment in Managerial Decision Making, Bazerman and Moore And from economics: All human activities can be described by five high-level components: data, prediction, judgment, action, and outcomes. For example, a visit to the doctor in response […]

Piketty on models

To summarize: models should be used with parsimony–that is, only when we really need them–and their role should not [be] exaggerated. Models can be useful to organize the data and clarify simple logical relations between basic concepts; but they cannot replace the historical narrative, which in my view must be the real core of the […]

From fact to law

Benjamin Peirce (father of Charles Sanders Peirce) on induction, deduction, and the role of math in the scientific process: Observation supplies fact. Induction ascends from fact to law. Deduction, by applying the pure logic of mathematics, reverses the process and descends from law to fact. The facts of observation are liable to the uncertainties and […]

Notes on political and social change

Just a post to clip together some resources… Julie Battilana at Harvard, in SSIR: In this article, we build on research on social change,1 including our own research,2 for which we studied hundreds of social change initiatives over multiple years and interviewed social entrepreneurs, civil society leaders, and public officials around the world. We identify […]