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    I knew a statistician employed in a certain countries official stats department.

    He said that most stats were calculated and published in an orthodox and scientific manner.

    Except for a few that related to the ideology and, ahhh, “principles” of the ruling party.

    In which case those stats were, ahhh, “computed” personally by the director with the help of the relevant government minister.

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      Apologies that this doesn’t link up directly with the article, which I only skimmed.

      My opinion, as an American, is that there is a deeper disagreement between left and right and it is about whether we should base our government on principles or on reason. The left is a lot more interested in making the argument for change by appealing to reason—examining the consequences of a decision. The right believes that what’s important is adhering to principles. In this light, there’s nothing surprising about the right not being moved by statistics. I also think this perspective explains why there are so many quiet moderates here: we like principles and we like reasonable change, but we don’t like unprincipled change or unreasonable adherence to principles, but find our position difficult to argue with those on the extremes.

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        Respectfully, if you feel the need to confess that you didn’t read the article at the start of the post, and your comment goes immediately into politics, then perhaps it is not something you should post.

        Edit: also, the sort of rubbish of “the right knows not reason” is a big part of the problem. The left has made just as many policy decisions without following the math and instead doing things on principle–they just claim that their principles are facts or reasonable.

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          I’m not sure why I felt like I could share that. It wasn’t a good idea. I would delete it, but I’ve been chastised for deleting things too…

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            It wasn’t a bad idea…you wrote clearly and civilly. It was just off topic. Take your lumps, move on, and keep trying new things. :)

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          I think the situation is much more subtle than you’re giving it credit for.

          I think people on the left and right tend to have certain principles that lead them to desire certain outcomes and, through reason, certain policies. It’s just that “reason” is actually really difficult and principles don’t always make sense to other people.

          For example, a belief (a principle) that every person has a right to drinking water might lead someone to conclude that we need to ensure that our groundwater is clean (an outcome). This, in turn, through reason, might lead that person to oppose certain mining or other resource extraction projects (the policies).

          Note that this hypothetical person could be either some sort of socialist or some sort of libertarian. Their preferred policies would probably differ, but the mechanism through which they arrived at those policy preferences would still be the same.

          I think many people want to believe that there is a “right” answer out there. I think this is especially true for “computer-y” people (witness the bumbling around AI-based content moderation). I saw this when I studied economics as well. It is tempting to try to derive policy prescriptions directly from economic theory, leaving everything else out, but this just isn’t possible. Ultimately, as a practical matter, everything boils down to principles, which are subjective and unscientific.

          Therefore, I really don’t think the differences between right and left are quite what you make them out to be. All along the political spectrum, however, I think there are people who are struggling to figure out how to get from their principles to a policy. This is why you see, for example, anti-immigrant sentiment flaring up in parts of the right and the left, largely among people whose economic fortunes have been in free fall for decades.

          I also think that there are a lot of people who simply have screwed up, terrible principles. I can’t prove that their principles are bad, because their principles are just that, principles. And this isn’t “moral relativism” as it is usually understood. I specifically claim that some beliefs are wrong. But I also claim that there is no convenient way for me to prove it, particularly to the people who hold those beliefs.

          This is tricky because changing someone’s principles is difficult, you can’t just show them a chart and an equation. But I think we do ourselves a disservice when we pretend that our differences, on both sides, aren’t rooted in subjective, unscientific principles.

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            I certainly don’t think my concept up there is the whole story. I just think it helps explain things broadly. I like it because most of the political discussion I see is micro-scale and I’m more interested in macro-scale. I guess I mean, treating right and left as a collection of issues rather than holistically.

            I don’t disagree deeply with anything you’ve said here, but I think you’ve interpreted what I wrote more sharply than I intended. But I agree with angersock that this probably wasn’t the right place for me to go into my philosophy so I won’t elaborate further.

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            What are principles if not rules that have been reasoned to be beneficial?

            My opinion, as an American, is that there is a deeper disagreement between left and right and it is about whether we should base our government on principles or on reason.

            I don’t think this analysis is correct at all. Plenty of policies pushed by leftists are based on principles, mostly their perversion of the principles of equality.

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            It does seem unlikely that politicians will create laws to prevent such analysis since they do benefit from it themselves. Maybe it will actually be used even more, since the traditional polls were inaccurate in the last election and “big data” supposedly had an advantage in winning voters.

            As much as I would hope for regulation and well defined data protection laws (more along the lines of data frugality), the chances for that happening seem, to me, slim.