Monday, April 25, 2016

In the name of Science, Data and Quantitative Methods

Before God('s word) was the language of power.  This day and age, it is science. Or rather the religion of Scientism. Hard data. Statistics. Figures. Graphs. Flashy PowerPoint presentations. The tool of mass persuasion. The tool of policy justification.

It's the only language power speaks. It's the only language power understands.

That is why Quantitative methods are so in vogue. Heavily Quant-laden MSc courses command the three-letters-behind-your-name market: the fees are higher and so are the expected salaries. Tens of thousands of science graduates churned out into the labour market.

This is how Bloomberg calculates that Thailand is world's happiest economy. This is how development consultants' number-jugglery  for ever leaves the Third World struggling, while keeping the HQ in New York, London or Geneva pleased. This is how the rule of technocrats indoctrinated in Quantitative Methods runs entire countries into the ground. This is how nuclear energy is (falsely) made out to be the cheapest. This is how technocrats from Goldman Sachs get to assume top-echelon positions in European governments and bleed everyone white with their misguided austerity policies. Never mind that even natural scientists demonstrate that uncritically quantitative research produces false results.

Wars used to be fought over one word in the Scripture. Now countries are turned into "competition states" to climb up a few places in rankings, never mind the social, environmental and psychological  cost (ala, the externals, generally excluded from most business model, 'coz who cares!). Blind belief in holy words may have given way to a blind belief in  holy numbers, but the latter is even more dangerous because of how efficiently it commands far vaster resources and more advanced technologies.

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