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Re: Just a single Question for the Candidates

On Sat, Mar 06, 2004 at 09:05:27AM +0000, Peter Samuelson wrote:
> [Andrew Suffield]
> > Psychology and sociology are fuzzy "sciences" for the most part,
> > where very little is proven. That does not mean that the standards
> > for proof should be lowered, it means that their conclusions should
> > be treated with the usual skepticism and not as things which have
> > been conclusively proven.
> As may be.
> All your pontificating about data and proof is a fine way to avoid the
> actual issue under discussion, which is that a social system (the
> Debian Project) is exhibiting the same symptom (fairly extreme
> under-representation of women) as other systems which have been studied
> and are similar to the Project in other ways.
> I think it is more than reasonable to entertain the possibility that a
> similar cause is, in the present case, responsible for a similar
> result.  And even to take action based on that assumption.  Or do you
> always wait for perfect information before making a decision?

"We can't be sure whether this orange-haired person likes to eat
babies or not. He probably does, lock him up".

If I have to make a guess then I do, but I don't pretend it's anything
more than a (possibly educated) guess. If you want to promote some
action based on your guess - go ahead. But don't try to pretend it's
based on anything but a guess. See how far you get.

> > Correlation across a large number of systems does *not* demonstrate
> > that the same thing will happen in any individual system.
> Is this just a game to you?  Did you think there were judges on the
> sidelines keeping notes about who was using the wrong standard of
> proof, or making unwarranted assumptions?  It's not a game to the ones
> who started this thread.

"It's not a game, therefore the rules (of logic) do not apply".

I don't accept that. I can't imagine why anybody would. Logic is for
dealing with the real world.

> If you'll recall, this started with a simple
> question about what can and should be done about the gender imbalance
> in the Project.  Surely it would be more productive to search for
> hypotheses about the causes for this imbalance, than to offer silly
> theories like sunspots to illustrate your point that, because the
> science is inexact, the real causes can never be known.

That was not my point. My direct point was that the argument "There
are no other possible explanations" was false. My indirect point was
that the fact that the causes cannot be known does not justify action
based upon a guess as to what those causes are.

> Any of those would be preferable to "insufficient data, therefore we
> have no choice but to ignore the issues".

I don't know where you pulled that one from. I'll guess that you got
it from Manoj, though.

  .''`.  ** Debian GNU/Linux ** | Andrew Suffield
 : :' :  http://www.debian.org/ |
 `. `'                          |
   `-             -><-          |

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