THE EVILS OF INDUCTIVISM
By Aaron Agassi with Professor Joseph Agassi
Corroborating observations of white swans support the assertion that there are white swans, but leave any assertion as to the existence of black swans unsupported. Hence, pending further evidence, it would be entirely valid to state that all known swans are white. Thus is solved the so-called problem of inductive reasoning. Empirical experience of the past remains, of course, our only knowledge whereof to conjecture towards predicting the future, however imperfectly, sans justification ever nor need thereof. Whereas Inductivism holds that experience consistently engenders adherence to the same established theories comprising science, falliblism instead contends that hypotheses are scientific only if capable of being tested experimentally such that refutation is conceivable and at all clearly defined.
For whereas Inductivism asserts Empirical support logically valid towards inexorable conclusion, hypothetico-deductive science deals in supporting evidence only nevertheless remaining uncertain and open to interpretation. For there is no absolute proof, proof positive, or proof at all, outside of logic, wherein proof is only of validity, defined as theoretical logical internal consistency, and never of truth, defined as correspondence to external reality which is never ascertainable by logical possibility alone but only by investigation Empirically.
Esoteric knowledge, prescriptive and calculatingly encoded and camouflaged into intentional obscurity or else however entirely ingenuous and descriptive, is fundamental yet derived only via careful comparison of diverse knowledge from many fields with keen attention and sagacity. While the ineffable, even knowable, even transmissible, nevertheless defies explanation or description. And living knowledge (as opposed to knowledge that is rightly called: inert), serving renewal and vitality, is growth, the experience of change put into practice, learned behaviors never immutable but ever subject to readaptation, emergent in collective interaction, tacit, highly charged and redolent, profoundly with the sensibility of drama, may even skirt the ineffable, often defying ready articulation let alone routine management via knowledge-driven Epistemology.
Knowledge can be of information, cases, skills and processes. "Factual" [sic.] or declarative information is often the easiest to state and to assess and simply therefore often preferred, even though no less often of least practical importance, concepts that must be comprehended and skills often being found the most difficult to articulate, often learned only in the doing and of greatest practical importance along with processes and cases. Truth seldom lies buried in the data and therefore knowledge is not simply an end product of information processing by Empirical packrats. Massive unsorted garbage in, bloated and obscure garbage out. Often, the the Gestalt context, the relationships between the data are more significant than the data itself, in and of itself or alone.
Indeed, progress in Hypothetico Deductive Method of making and testing and refuting hypotheses in order to narrow the field of remaining viable hypotheses, is a skill in a dynamic process of Epistemological Methodology which is cased based rather than Methodologically rules based the way Baconian Inductivism sought to be.
The three key
claims of Inductivism are that a)
knowledge comes directly to
careful, unprejudiced observers via the senses, b) that such
Empirical data are
prior to and independent of theory, and c) that
Empirical data constitute a
firm and reliable foundation for scientific
knowledge. Indeed, we can
observe that observations may come prior to theories seeking to explain them,
and that theorizing is a rule-governed activity dealing in
Wesley Salmon defines inductive inference as rational but non truth-preserving
(invalid) inference, as opposed to deductive inference which is rational and
truth-preserving, or rather:
logically valid, so that truth (correspondence to reality in
assertions) if any, of
is conserved only given valid inference. Indeed, rational, non-truth-preserving inferences number among
unfounded conjecture which is the beginning of all hypothesis, critical
preference and only then
reality testing and
following only thereafter. But Inductivim demands instead that simple
Empirical observation and
thence inductive inference are somehow ultimately truth preserving firm
foundation, certitude surrogate, thereby conflating the different senses of the
that are actually entirely distinct.. Inductivism insists that validity in
can somehow survive transition into
Empirical science, so that
there can ever be any such a thing as scientific
proof positive and
inerrant firm foundation. And the result is abductive validation, long wandering
in abstraction likely off course, and long overdue for
reality testing of
clear hypotheses with standards of observable refutation for successively
weeding out no longer viable scientific theories.
The Epistemological Methodological theory of Inductivism, as with any theory of Metaphysics, can be applied both as a descriptive theory, about how science actually is conducted, and as a prescriptive theory or recommendation as to how science best or ideally should be performed. But Inductivism fails miserably on both counts. Because many episodes from the history of science, that is to say, longitudinal data, prior observations of the conduct of science over time, show how Inductivism fails as a descriptive theory. Further more, science cannot possibly be undertaken in the manner of Inductivism, nor would such ever be desirable. Because, in actuality, observation works best or at all when theory-guided, knowledge-driven Epistemology, indeed, which is to say, when the observer is somehow or other actually somewhat biased as to what they are looking for. Because Hypothetico Deductive Method is a skilled dynamic process of Epistemological Methodology which is case based rather than methodically rules based the way Baconian Inductivism sought to be.
How best to invest limited investigatory resources? To be completely open minded means to be utterly unbiased. And that is neither possible, desirable nor necessary to objectivity. Because bias or background is context, however conjectural, without which nothing can ever be intelligible. Indeed, it is the mind, not the eye, which actually perceives, and which, for example, learns to interpret visual input only from experience of events, by modeling in the visual cortex that is impossible without prior expectation at all, hence always risking misinterpretation and error. For even if all prior expectations are also Empirical, they will never be verified or infallible, because the first explanatory theories, however initially adequate, will be incomplete or false outright. Indeed, exploration may bring new and unexpected observations beyond the compass of prior expectation and hence all the more prone to error. And even trying to start completely fresh will not eliminate the very same inevitable problems in the process, but only sacrifice any benefit of prior experience and theory, throwing out the proverbial baby with the metaphorical bath water, and still gaining nothing in return.
Inductivism with it's dread of bias and consequent taboo upon any and all conjecture so readily dismissed as pipedream for wont of prior authoritative foundation or justification, like unto the computer game Mine Sweeper, strives at the avoidance of mistakes, as if mistakes where actually explosively lethal. But in real Hypothetico Deductive science, the errors are detected only some time after their territory has been well and however blithely intruded upon, in order then to score good argumentative points, not damage at all. Alas, it is the intimidation of ever being found in error or out of step, that engenders entrenched conservative cowardice against all progress. Hence the caution of Inductivism seeks so deftly to circumnavigate what is misperceived as the minefield of error even though in truth, we learn only by mistakes made so as afterwards to be detected, by Socratic ongoing refutation, hence the more openly the more efficiently. And so, in actual practice, the only real accomplishment of Inductivism has been as a dangerousred herrings, the ignominious and antidemocratic concealment of controversy.
Actually, it may be entirely reasonable for different observers to arrive at different conceptions of whatever situation, notwithstanding any homogeneity of information or so called "facts" [sic.] shared, indeed, even by the standards of Inductivism, because even inductive inferences are not the same thing as necessary or logically inevitable inferences.
Thus Inductivism never really forestalls controversy nor eliminates doubt and hence even the most entirely intellectual of responsibilities entailed in free choice at all. Because consensus is never any guarantee of knowledge or truth.
Cognitive Behaviorism views classical behavioral condoning as Inductivist. Worse, Behavior Modification numbers among those misguided ideologies of anti-intellectualism implicitly marshaling Inductivism in defense of preference towards the Pragmatism or Instrumentalism of Engineering and perhaps Research and Development over investigatory research in pure science and the scientific quest for truth in it's own right, it's own sake, or even for anticipated technological application afterwards.
Induction is an invalid inference wherein conclusions of generality (all swans are white) may not contradict observations of specific instance (particular white swans) taken as premise. But many allowable possible conclusions may still contradict one another. Nevertheless, that the premise and conclusion may not contradict already narrows possible conclusions, perhaps even closing upon truth, which is correspondence to objective reality. And the more varied the particular instances taken as premise, the more narrow the range of conclusions that won’t contradict with premise from subjective observation. But can the possibilities ever be narrowed all the way to truth before perception; entailing even tentative hypothesis and opinion, must inevitably arise?
Various blithe overextension of inductive argument by analogy endured the longest of all logical falsities before finally being discredited, thereby effectively concluding the history of logic.
The core falsehood of Inductivism is the notion that hypothesis, opinion and therefore attachment to pet theories in jeopardy from trial and error, conjecture and refutation, with pursuant controversy and strife, are avoided simply by the patience to gather sufficient instances open-mindedly. Thus the reoccurring myth of infallibility in innocence, assuming induction to be natural and therefore glamorized and hypothesis and deduction civilized and therefore demonized. Indeed, numbering among the most needlessly misleading of attachments and suffering is anti-argumentative anti-critical bias, the angry, emotionally injured and hypersensitive anti-Socratic fixation that strife must ever attend upon controversy, destructively and unproductively.
Inductivism and the secret police
Indeed, no less than science, genuine and competent criminal investigation is a Hypothetico Deductive process of inquiry, wherein anomalies that arouse suspicion, called clues, in direct contradiction to Inductivism, inspire theories to direct the search for truth, here signifying correspondence to reality in allegations. The only thing that at all counters the danger of bias must be the willingness to also test alternative hypotheses and to seek refutation no less zealously than corroboration or hard evidence. But as a matter of policy, the police never even admit suspicion due to circumstantial evidence, however blatant, much less investigate there from. Inductivism in the field of intelligence demands ignoring the distraction of clues, and dauntlessly pressing onward through the ever growing volumes of arbitrarily collated data. Inductivism demands knowing every "fact" [sic.] and understanding nothing.
And likewise, our leaders typically will see no more than what it serves them to, no matter the evidence presented them, only to quicken with zeal when it is too late and the damage done, exploiting entirely avoidable crises in pursuit of the most flagrant ulterior agendas, whether scheming or blundering, all the same, relentlessly failing upwards, their very arrogance and incipience incompetence creating the very crises they exploit in relentless propaganda manipulation of the electorate.
Constitutional checks and balances upon law enforcement also serve as good scientific method. Warrants for the invasion of citizen privacy for further investigation, are granted only given good evidence to prompt suspicion. The very idea that crime fighting can be in any way or shape improved or increased in any way by the relaxation of restraint of due process that at all keeps our public servants honest, is much the same as to think that more lab work could get done if only one might dispense with all that bothersome scientific rigor! And the elimination of reasonable suspicion in criminal investigation is the same as the elimination of the bias or context of hypothesis in science. Indeed, among Other Problems of Inductivism, the history of science records that, no matter what they may have preached, Inductivism is not the scientific method that scientists any more than honest cops, have actually followed when engaged in any effective scientific progress. Nor have such unscientific Methodologies better served the discovery of truth or service of justice, in any other investigative context. What, then, can be the enduring appeal and whatever application of Inductivism in society?
For although propaganda, replete with all manner persuasive symbols and metaphors, is typically emotive, nevertheless there is also pseudo rational propaganda taking the appearance of genuine scientific truth, but often actually deceptive mystification. Because, rather than genuine, rational appraisal of information, citations of ersatz “facts“ [sic] and figures leave the impression of great and thorough rationality, effectively mythologizing science itself. And often the intended target of such pseudo rational propaganda is unable or unwilling to analyze the figures, or simply overwhelmed by argumentum verbosum, sheer volume of material, even Inductivist raw data, such as appears well researched, and thus is persuaded only by the fraudulent appearance of rationality promoted via just such vague capricious mystification as insidiously conditioned into the solid sounding authoritative buzz word: 'fact,' rather than by ever actually reasoning and coming to grips with reality.
Inductivism only rationalizes willful blindness via the putative virtue of thoroughness. Ever increasingly, thwarted and frustrated FBI agents, disgruntled, have broken silence and made themselves most explicit, that they have never at all actually need or have any much use for any such power to search American citizens without court warrants as ever provided by the Patriot Act. Rather, honest hard working and dedicated FBI agents engaged in counterterrorism, simply crave the freedom of ordinary due diligence, to follow up clues Hypothetico Deductively, in specific, to investigate Saudi Arabia, especially the protected Bin Laden family and their corporate connections of the Carlyle Group, without repeatedly being ordered more and more, from the very top, to simply back off!
The sheer obvious common sense of watchfulness for suspicious activity, in other words: savvy, innocuous and discrete attention to and direction by those as ever observed distinctive anomalies that in law enforcement investigation are called: clues that can be investigated towards formulation and narrowing focus of hypotheses of detectable guilt that can even be tested for error in order to spare the innocent, is instead perverted by Inductivism, into senseless wholesale surveillance, vague suspicion, bumbling intrusive hostility and intimidation, such travesty of capable and dexterous spycraft that in no way resembles, even perhaps, any conceivable legitimate broader sociological research, even in order to better direct crime fighting. And with the actual recruitment by the authorities, of poorly educated and untrained security personnel, for example, even rent-a-cops in shopping malls, to join in submitting voluminous reports upon their fellow citizens, government and often community based petty bureaucratic abuse of power conferring impunity for all fair game tactics of orchestrated bullying and organized gang stalking and even of vigilantly harassment by thugly cop wannabes, insidiously draw closer together in rising fascism.
To begin with, arbitrary surveillance and racial profiling or detention are ways of casting a broader net in order to collect more and mostly extraneous data/suspects than is realistically possible to process, and without ever catching the real culprits at all, much less then identifying them. Indeed, whistle blowers have brought to light actually vast backlogs of illegal taped wiretaps, even under the Patriot Act, untranslated for months because of the the government remaining understaffed in qualified Arabic speaking personnel. All prime examples of the Epistemological Methodological failure of Inductivism!
The Inductivist requirement that data be chosen without preconceptions or background knowledge is neither realistic nor desirable because brute Empirical data, however voluminous and rigorous, seldom actually speaks its own meaning. Rather, only the context of background information renders the data intelligible, focusing and narrowing experimental data gathering down into any practical or useful task in the first place. Indeed, Beware of Skilled Incompetence, gutless executives marshalling information Inductively, and thus avoiding any productive outcome of conflict or controversy and hence staying and never changing the course of action.
Indictivism, then, survives as the scoundrelous promise of the impossible and the unnecessary in evasion of all minimum decent responsibilities, and even undermines our national defense.
Likewise, when abusive clueless lazy corrupt local police protecting those with connections, routinely obstruct justice by conducting only cursory investigation, taking care not to follow up awkward questions that they suppress by means of intimidation, authoritatively and passively demanding such hard evidence as can never simply arise on it's own, until, if ever, anyone else with the wherewithal motivated does all the work for them and presses whatever unwelcome truth upon them, this is typical Inductivism as manifest under such cynical entrenched Orthodoxy as usurps the esprit de corps and redeeming Existential disgust that must fuel legitimate systematic doubt in honest criminal investigation no less than in the conduct of science, journalism or any other vital inquiry.
Dashiell Hammett, after all, was writing from experience, and so am I. Bitter experience, as it happens. Because the rightful prime suspect remains free and the case quickly closed with the cause of unlikely death officially deemed natural. Alas, I lack connections and all the other bereaved are just amazingly spineless.
And where did they get that from, I wonder? Where did they loose their courage and curiosity whatsoever, even in crisis and whatever type of tragedy? I know that home life was clearly part of it, along with social circumstance, but there is also a common thread to be found in Formal Education, wherein, along with family life, we are each and all first exposed to bullying intimidation and the stultifying rationalizations thereof that are the subject of this text.
And so, I would like to begin with the peculiar marketing advantages that are unique to Education. As with police work, as long as there seems to be some secret to unfold, judgment of customer satisfaction can be suspended. As typical most notably of standard cult initiation, the consumer can be kept involved for as long as they are willing and able to pay or at least to persevere, or else, much as any other context in dealing with the authorities, worn down to exhaustion and locked out.
One key in this strategy of exploitation is academic accreditation. As with policing, this monopoly similarly also offers the however ersatz guarantee of mediocrity. And as with scientific peer revue and police presence, that doesn't sound like a selling point for schools either, but it is. Because, a guarantee of mediocrity offers, at least, some perceived guarantee against even lower and even more tyrannical and downright criminal grades of snake oil. More over, it locks out excellence, which can be a threat. Even better, the content only needs to be slightly more valuable than abysmal, to gain a glowing reputation by comparison. Best of all, customer satisfaction becomes increasingly moot, when punishment and reward systems of course credit and passing grade or failure are wielded to signal the dire lack of all engaging intrinsic motivation and value thereby eliciting overjustification effect, all thus to demoralize and intimidate the consumers of the service ("Education" as this ordeal is called) who are referred to as "students".
THE TRAVESTY THAT IS INDUCTIVIST EDUCATION
In a stunning reversal of all free market norms, the vendor, or "school"/"university", through an employee called a "professor" or "teacher", veritably policing hapless student performance, then holds the power of satisfaction and dissatisfaction against the consumer! The customer is always wrong! And the vendor to a significant degree controls the career future of the consumer, or as he or she is called, the "student".
Further more, this brand of oppression has been consistent from childhood, through the school system, and is deeply ingrained by conditioning and indoctrination. By the conditionality of meeting emotional needs only given the desired responses, peer pressure of negative conditioning and even emotional tear town against undesired response and awkward begged questions and generally obstructing and discouraging error checking, the technique of graduated indoctrination can be employed, with continual repetition, so as to gradually reshape the subject's belief's or position. Most commonly, as per the travesty of Inductivist education, whatever innocuous seeming truisms by default may be utilized initially as a starting point, and then the desired behaviors and supporting rationalizations are slowly and stealthily introduced and connected thereto, unexamined. In this way, the individual subject may be coaxed into to perceive the institutional righthink as consistent with their own habits, personal boundaries and perceptions, no matter how jarring and suspicious it all might have been, had the proverbial cards all been laid out on the metaphorical table from the beginning, instead. Social success demands permeability to such osmosis, whereof autonomy requires resistance. A quandary.
Beware of Skilled Incompetence, the consequent adaptation by gutless executives marshalling information Inductively, and thus avoiding any relevant productive outcome of conflict on any level from controversy and never changing the course of action, fixed malagenda under predisposition to heteronymous Cohesion-Norms of Groupthink team traps of Stockholm Syndrome!
Of course, maneuvering the mark into ongoing perseverance in vein hope that things will begin to make better sense as they unfold later on, is the first step and devious coercion and consensus manipulation towards exploitation until the collapse into disillusionment or, if not, then long term cult brainwashing into the eager and highly capable sycophancy and career advancement of the true believer. -Or, failing all of that, and even with any grain of salt, nevertheless, conformist and heteronymous socialization instead of the robust and healthy autonomous social development essential to freedom. And that is why pearls of wisdom in school must so often be gleaned by such faithful perseverance not entirely unlike unto the harrowing frustrations of the Zen disciple.
And to think that teachers where once the Greek slaves of their Roman conquerors! Imagine selling any other good or service operating under such a respectable protection racket! No entrepreneur has ever enjoyed such an unfair advantage. But then, the torment of the student embodies everything that the entrepreneur seeks to escape by turning away from the "rat race".
One chief ingredient in sustaining the illusion and agony of a great secret to be gleaned, is in the use of so called "case studies" according to the long discredited educational theory known as Inductivism. And the typical business speaker's class room presentations need not have to offer more than a sort of live performance of the so called Inductivist "case study". Inductivism the educational theory is based upon Inductivism, the long dead theory of Epistemology and Scientific Methodology, pioneered by the likes of Francis Bacon. Inductivism the long dead theory of Epistemology and Scientific Methodology, states that general knowledge comes about as a model arising from multiple repeated experiences of the specific, that is to say, Pattern Recognition.
INDUCTIVISM AND ITS DEFECTS • Other Problems of Inductivism • preference without justification
In short, by ruling out prior hypothesis, Inductivism rejects analysis to begin with, let alone explanatory teaching, as unnatural. Induction denotes the formation of general expectations or understandings or set theories, out from repeated specific instances Empirically. In other words: Induction is of general principles conditioned from experience of multiple specific instances. Indeed, today's cutting edge Neural Networks, simulating nature, perform Pattern Recognition, which is the first step towards Induction. But Neural Nets have no understanding of what they do. They build no models. Nor do the mainstream traditional Cyberneticists who create Neural Nets, for that matter. They only experiment with simplified circuit lay outs that they derive from nature, in examination of the brain. Really explanatory theoretical principles have yet to arise. -And never will, of course...
But computers don't need comprehension
Chimpanzees by contrast, indeed clearly possessing a great deal of comprehension, are also Inductive. But, bright as they are, Chimpanzees lack the communications ability to share and test their hypotheses. That is why they are still where they are, despite all the genes they share with us. Indeed, even in the human species, reduced generalization is a feature of low-functioning Autism wherein hyper-systemizing amounts to a reluctance to formulate a law until there has been sufficient data collection, thus quite possibly also reducing IQ and breadth of knowledge.
Similarly, in the tiresome procedure of Inductivist Education, the so called "case study" is followed in by the "facts" marshaled inductively -- as if at random in the hope that their significance will EMERGE later (it NEVER does and never will) -- are always significant in advance, yet the presenter does not say so as Hypothetico-Deductivism is the gravest of all sins among Inductivists. (Hypothetico-Deductivism is the Methodology of making a HYPOTHESIS about the significance of the "facts" marshaled, preferably ALTERNATIVE hypotheses, and TESTING them all.) And perhaps worse than the Inductivist pathetic vein hope of understanding dawning with whatever truth to be gleaned by steering clear of any guiding bias whatsoever, is in remaining unbiased even to the end, of trivial and poorly supported conclusions still without theoretical description indispensable to ever deeper understanding, of veritable cargo cult science, defeat and cynicism towards progress and truth. But as for Inductivist so called "case studies", it is important to note that some "facts" are reported as the significant BACKGROUND KNOWLEDGE that colors the problem situation and our approach to it, some as ILLUSTRATIONS of the speaker's (allegedly illegitimate) hypotheses (which allegedly should emerge legitimately in due course), but the most important ones are REFUTATIONS of some common sense but false hypotheses (that you should discover and become aware of explicitly for yourself). Finally, some reported "facts" serve as hidden ADVICE. In short, a story enfolding a moral. A simplistically elaborated fable from real life with a vague and obtuse object lesson.
Thus is the consumer or "student" made to work hard gleaning each cherished pearl of wisdom, or take the blame for failure. And largely in consequence, all manner of stress disorders are common due to just this planet wide psychological health hazard of what passes for Education.
It is common in the business world to basically market a byproduct, specifically the interminable self-promotional "public service" public speaking of business people, even if there is some ostensible focus on Venture Capitalism. Articles in this connection made available Online need not be written Inductivistically. Indeed, on legal issues, for example, they may actually be clearly Hypothetico-Deductive. But Prima facie, typically there is may be little indication if and how such presentation actually reflects or not, their thinly disguised educational services thereby promoted. Nor have I seen much in the way of straightforward "how to" manuals, or Methodological treatise on the analysis and evaluation of business plans and opportunities.
This bring us to other teaching techniques and possible curricula, not as yet marketed by anyone in the business world, neither academic or commercial:
In the classroom or anywhere else, to explicitly search for a Methodology of business plan dissection and successful business plan writing, Hypothetico-Deductively. And to even include spread sheet fundamentals and such for the sake of wider transparency as need be. Or to offer workshops instead of traditional classrooms.
This would also be significantly labor saving, plus affording the luxury of time and attention to better formation of teams, and fuller development of plans, without artificial time pressures.
Indeed, it is my sincere hope that such is the intention of Rajesh Pradan for his proposed SCHOOL FOR ADVANCEMENT OF SOCIAL ENTERPRISE MANAGEMENT. But while there seems to be a pronounced emphasis upon genuine Hypothetico Deductivitity in brainstorming (as opposed to Inductivist pseudo-brainstorming) to solve problems, initial analysis still relies on some sort of Case Study method, which may still bear the abhorrent scourge of Inductivism.
Say it ain't so, Rajesh!
Copyright 2002-2011 by Aaron Agassi