Monday, October 24, 2011

Nick - Facts vs. Ideologies

Last year I learned things.

I learned how certain chemical compounds react; at what rate, and forming what products. I learned how cells operate inside my very own body. I learned how dendrites and axons, working together, allow your brain to function.

I didn't like learning about any of those things. And that's why, this year, I'm learning very different things.

I'm learning about when it is and isn't morally acceptable to kill people. I'm learning about what is a good basis for policy in domestic terms and in international terms. I'm learning about what motivates people.

And, truth be told, I don't really like learning about that stuff either. And the reason for that is very simple: it's so subjective. It isn't even 'learning' so much as 'discussing.'

But let me tell you what I do like.

I like that moment where we can look at two policies, and say, "this one is the better policy." I like looking at statistics of countries going to war, and saying, "this factor increases the probability of an armed dispute between nations."

I like when we can apply facts to social situations. I like solving real, lasting problems. I like when we can sift through the grey areas to find the truth.

Oftentimes political science is a petty squabble over opinions; there is no invalid opinion as long as one can argue in support of it. This is the part of political science I hate. The part where we distance ourselves from reality in an effort to remain politically unbiased.

But it all becomes worth it in that moment where the numbers are sitting in front of me, and I can see that factor x increases probably of result y. That moment where we can cross a policy off the board, casting it down as ineffectual. That moment where the professor tells someone he's incorrect, and illustrates a real-world example to show us why.

I love facts, and I love using facts. I love applying facts. Because once that barrier between facts and ideologies is broken, the true state of things can be discerned.

Only by being completely open-minded, and completely dedicated to evidence, can we determined the correct path.



  1. What is your stance?

  2. This essentially describes the way I go about life, provided that you switch the connotations of all the verbs and adjectives to the opposites of what they are.

  3. I just want to point out that none of your comments make any sense.

  4. I want to point out that most of his comments are approximately "The Wire."

  5. I want to point out that I have now seen just as much of The Wire as Eliot, so I can now make informed counter-statements.

  6. is this utilitarianism? Nick, you sound like a socialist!

  7. I would say this is a far cry from utilitarianism; it's more like policy analysis. The defining characteristic of utilitarianism is the goal of "the most good for the most people."

    The processes I'm talking about are more analysis based; more than just reading numbers off of a sheet. They have to be applied in a way that makes sense.

    I feel like you accomplished your goal of getting me to use political science jargon.

  8. I was trying to sound ignorant. I have a weird sense of humor . . .