08 August 2014
Your Experience Counts For Shot
It's kind of odd. The only tools that God gives us to evaluate reality are our observations and experiences, from which we're presumably supposed to draw conclusions and use to make better decisions in the future. This certainly works well with things like touching a hot stove.
However, we know from modern science that in order to draw valid conclusions about pretty much anything in the larger world of politics, economics, any of the "ologies," etc., you must have hundreds or thousands of examples and data points, not just a few. So on large scales and big social questions, in other words, your and my experiences are "not statistically meaningful;" there aren't enough of them to tell us anything about whatever it is we're discussing.
And yet our personal experience is much more real and immediate and meaningful to us than statistics.
Suppose you live in Plainville, and a survey shows that Plainville is a very safe, largely crime-free town. In LA and New York the crime rate is 20 crimes per thousand people; in Pleasanton and SLO it's five crimes per 1000, and in Plainville it's only one crime per 1000.
But what if YOU are that one person out of a thousand who got mugged?
Then you think Plainville is full of criminals and is very unsafe! So from that point on you will lock your doors and have a security system and not go out after dark--even though you're living in the safest town in the country and your neighbors don't lock their doors, have security systems, etc.
So our personal experience overrides our knowledge, and we therefore make WORSE decisions based on our assessment of the subject.
Something's wrong with this picture!