Exuberant Database Evaluations

Graphic by Darwin Leon


Is your database overvalued?

Exuberant valuation of a database is based on the logical belief that, IF a past set of facts are know, THEN a future set of facts be predicted pursuant to a theory applied to the past set of facts. Therefore, it is proposed that facts are not the random occurrences many of them very well may be; rather, they are determined by the reasoning of natural science, which is nomothetic or law-giving.

Religious adherents hold a similar belief that effects follow causes, that divine providence, the facts, flow from the wisdom of reasoning, but they hold that precise relations between abstract laws induced from the concrete facts may not be fully explained except to say, as Luther did when confronted with the absurdities of his propositions, “God wills it.”

The agnostic holds that there is no proof of the existence of the ultimate universal or being called, by the pagan term ‘god,’ while the enthusiast or god-possessed person resorts to mystical means of atonement or knowing god, that of reconciliation and even unification of the universal with particulars.

Notwithstanding the blasphemous materialism of natural scientists, their formulations of law have provided the race with considerable power over the natural world. Yet those who claim that scientists created the god of science or the mother of all abstractions, number, instead of discovering number, imply that man is god, although his spiritual nature cannot be counted and calculated.

In any event, once a particular theory is proven by a representative sample of facts, of which there are never enough for absolute certainty, particular facts, especially if they do not suit the theory, may be ignored, since any set of facts will do. From that time forward, the historical database, regardless of its extent, is virtually worthless, and theory is everything: “To hell with the facts!” Wherefore the unexpected events that vary from and determine the natural course of events remain unpredictable.

Economists have included themselves in the pantheon of natural science; however, they are imposters. Economics was a small branch of history when history was an idiographic cultural science; that is, related to particular cultural events. The protagonists of that sort of historicism believe that generalizations or theories, i.e. logical stories, are not possible under its ideographic ideology or mode of thinking. In other words, historical scientism, including the psychological, sociological, and economic sciences with their historical or cause-and-effect reasoning, is fraudulent, for the laws of the natural world simply do not hold sway over the spirit. Historicists did not deny that some sort of spirit, perhaps called Will, holds sway over history, or that man himself could not influence the course of events to some degree; still, its nature was unknowable, hence the best laid plans come to ruin.

Modern economists addressed the nomothetic and idiographic dichotomy threatening their professions, creating a third category rationalizing their enterprise: Understanding. To wit: Man is most familiar with mankind, and can therefore understand and predict his conduct by employing rational, systematic tools, providing that he leaves some room for the human intuition that understands his own nature. Thus is superstition purportedly denied, and natural science, though employed as a tool, is not essential for justification.

The fact of the matter is that man is the most unpredictable of all creatures. His ability to reflect, to reason, leaves him wild and free to a certain extent, even to fly in the face of reason to his own destruction. His god, in whose image he is made, has nothing to fear hence has no reason to reason, so man is god-like and irrational at times.

Let the economist draw his ideographs. His models are made of clay, his theories are myths. He graphs facts that will never recur in accordance with any law capable of being known. All the facts, all the way back to the point of origin, the ultimate cause or creator, will never be comprehended. All we have left is the great law of probability, that every gambler will fail if he continues to gamble, and he knows not when. Still a myth can be useful. The gambler who knows what his chances are is more likely to win for a while longer than others.

Myths too can be useful. The economist with his graph, like the gypsy with her glass ball and the priest with his graven image, should be valued not on the extent of his database alone, for statistics can be employed to justify almost anything, but on the philosophy he would employ to influence the future conduct of his fellows.

David Arthur Walters

Manhattan 1998