Also important is that numbers are analogies to real world things. They represent real world things but they’re not real world things.

I remember Freakonomics. Thing is, it all depends. There is a LOT of very useful information that can be drawn from large scale studies over long periods of time, given accurate data collection of course.

Freakonomics is basically statistical analysis gone wild with correlations galore. It’s fascinating and it’s useful and _can_ have predictable capabilities *if* used properly.

The true test is to look at past predictions to see what held up and what didn’t.

Like any predictive method, knowing the limitations of the system is critical. One erroneous hypothesis will lead to erroneous conclusions, no matter how marvelous the data inbetween is. But that’s true of any scientific endeavor.

Also important is that numbers are analogies to real world things. They represent real world things but they’re not real world things.

At the same time, finding similar flocking behaviors is very useful. There’s a strong measure of predictability when doing cross-discipline comparisons and THAT’S perhaps where something like Freakonomics really shines… just as long as it continually compares itself to the non-numerical things it is representing to check for accuracy. Oftentimes an elegant graph continues being shown as if true, when it’s not, because the story the graph tells fits the story we want to tell.

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