I, The Absolute

Assumptions & Experience; Doubts & Diversity

Posted by itheabsolute on May 10, 2005

 However much we may want to base our decisions on data and their analyses, assumptions become integral part of, sometimes basic to, decision making. The more I read, the more it becomes clear to me. Statistics is full of assumption – despite the rigorous math approach that this discipline has, at very fundamental level, the utility of statistics is possible because of assumptions. Marketing is full of assumptions too – a company assumes that the new flavor it adds in the ketchup would suit the taste buds of some people. How does one make assumptions? They cannot be made out of thin air. One needs experience or needs to closely know someone else’s experience. Hence, the premium placed on people with experience.

 When one is graded for class participation (CP), one tends to cook up doubts, even when none exists or can be imagined. In the entire first term, we are not being graded for class participation (CP). That is, no marks for asking questions. I have great regard for people who ask genuine questions which enlighten the entire class. Sometime even the Prof learns out of such doubts. These people are good. But the other category is interesting. These people want to ask doubts that seem to annoy only them. They want to ask questions on the subject the Prof is yet to cover. Some wake up and ask questions relating to previous class. Some repeatedly ask doubts. Ten to Fifteen doubts in each class! It has nothing to do with CP. They have a culture of asking doubts or seeking way. Get into an airplane. We can notice some people ask the air hosts to guide them to their seats. Get into an exam hall, there are people ‘feeling the need’ to be taken to their respective desks. These people are Boss’s nightmares. They would call up the boss every hour to clarify doubts. (Should I send this mail or not. Yes. Okay, then should I cc it or bcc it to you. Use cc. Okay. Should I use regards or cheers?) They would go to a colleague to clarify doubts. (The other day I saw you finish the project report. Did you type single space or double space? Double space. Did you send soft copy or hard copy? Hard copy. Did you use A or B size paper?). One kind of people. Long live diversity.

2 Responses to “Assumptions & Experience; Doubts & Diversity”

  1. Hi

    Agree with you on point 1.

    I am more referring to people who are psychologically prone to asking doubts. They may not necessarily be misusing the system. they cannot help asking doubts/questions.

    a good way to handle people who misuse the CP, i guess, is to boo them and perhaps make them feel embarrassed about the whole thing of asking uncalled for questions.



  2. Hi there!
    Great insights as usual. I have a couple of comments to make:

    1. Assumptions are often inevitable (don’t you think?) and are integrated into our ability to analyze things. You got it absolutely right when you said people with experience are more adept at making better assumptions (could not agree more).
    Apart from business in the field of research, assumptions (also referred to as ‘Hypothesis’) are critical before undertaking an experiment, after all you need to be able to foresee your conclusions. Fortunately some ‘Hypothesis’ bear results and some fall by the wayside, and the good thing is it contributes to the learning process (including the failures).

    2. About the CP, I totally agree with you again about how different people (mis)use the ability to ask questions. I have always wondered this too but is there a solution to this problem, I mean, can we reform the people who ask questions just for the heck of it. I think it is an interesting dilema. After spending some years in Grad School, I have however realized one thing, ‘No question is a dumb question’ so long as the person asking questions does not misuse this opportunity.


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