Posted by Lorelei (220.127.116.11) on January 28, 2002 at 21:23:21:
In this forum we are largely talking about human
behavior. More specifically, in the vortex of
Fred's arguments we are drawn to a whirlwind
of statements, observations and facts that posit
that Christians act this way, Muslims act this way,
Assyrians act this way, and so on and so forth.
While any of these observations may have all, some or
none of its information approximate truth, the very
structure of these arguments are faulty. Why are they
faulty? Because the statements made about groups of
people that comprise billions in our globe are made
without consideration of factors that also weigh into
what influences human behavior. Since Fred
cannot "know" all people in his "populations," he must
work off a "sample" to make an "inference" about the
Studying the behavior of the sample to predict the
whole can be a dangerous thing. However,
some people find it necessary to study the sample
in order to understand the population. Statisticians
call this "statistical inference." Because studying
the whole can prove to be very expensive, time consuming
and also inefficient, it is often sufficient
to gather information about the sample to predict
for the population.
What is most important in studying the sample
to understand the population is method of analysis.
If your method only looks at one variable to understand
, for instance, shopping behaviors of teenagers,
you may miss out alot. Why? Because weighing other
variables can provide useful data on the sample as well.
Often, researchers can find that age, gender,
race, socioeconomic background and level of schooling
TOGETHER are all variables that can be used ot under
stand , for instance, teenager shopping patterns.
In saying all this I hope to make it clear that
studying a sample to understand a population is
done best when numerous, relevant variables are considered
to understand the sample.
Thus, to say that "Assyrian Christians act x"
or "Muslims do y" or "Christians do z" is making a
judgment of certainty about the population. Of course,
you did not analyze the population, and perhaps
relied upon rudimentary analysis of the sample (hearsay,
news, etc) to build your thesis statement. This
is faulty reasoning for many reasons, the biggest two
being 1) you are implying certainty when you have
failed to demonstrate how you reached this certainty
and 2) you have not considered all other variables that
shape and influence human behavior in a population.
Assyrians, Muslims, Christians, Orthodox Jews, Bahais,
Persians, Africans, all these people can be considered
a "population" of sorts. It would be a feat to say
with certainty some behavioral statement of all
members of this group. Moreover, we also see that
this population is different by age, per capita income,
socioeconomic status, race, religion, infant mortality
rates, endemic diseases, geography, etc....all these
are crucial factors that shape how humans behave.
To only consider one variable (religion) is then an
oversimplification of a complex process that merits
a higher level of analysis. We will by no means
come to an absolute understanding of a population,
but we can understand the sample and make inferences
about the pop. if we are equipped with theright researchand
analytical methods to analyze that group of people.
If you find all of this to be "boring," "useless" or
otherwise, i challenge you to show why it is so.
I am trying to come at you with logical reasoning
and not emotive reasoning. (There is no absolute
separation of the two, but one can try to limit
words not to attack on one's person but to the ideas
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