Just finished perusing Stephen Gould’s book
“Full House” on the topic– observing the
world as variation.
This blog entry is offered in the context of ways
of estimating the future and looking for where
careers are moving for chemistry and chemistry
(See previous comment on predicting business
He shares that most things do not change in strictly
logical ladder-like [or linear growth] fashion in
a narrow view.
He opines that one needs to view the entire system.
Cultural biases tend to self fulfill themselves into
There is a tendency to peg ideas on over-used
central tendency descriptors, and overlook both
non-normal distributions and better central tendency
representations. These are important for us to see
Gould observes: Many phenomena are either right or
left skewed, if they can be simplified, or part a more
complicated series of related distributions. (In a sense
this is stating the Boatright, et.al. observations on
business in statistical terms.)
Future changes in Science and technology is one of
three cultural elements he comments about. He starts
‘Any history of an entity (a group, an institution and
evolutionary lineage) must be tracked by changes
in the variation of all components and not falsely
epitomized as a single item (mean, typical value, etc.)
moving along a linear pathway.
There is not a drive to the right-tail distribution of
human performance (upper-limits). History invokes
the story of life as a movement away from the left
wall of minimal complexity.’
Cultural change (science, fine arts, performing arts)
on the other hand receives a powerful boost
from amalgamation and merging the best features of
different traditions. Further, learning and education
advance younger generations even further.
An optimistic note is that science as a discipline is so
far from the ‘right wall [in knowledge and merging
disciplines]’ there is so much more to understand and