Absolutism in the Realm of Uncertainty

by Charles Bliss



Physical scientists commonly have looked with mild scorn on the "scientific" efforts of workers in the social behavior field, even though many of their own experiments, while controllable, involve the common problems of chance and uncertainty. But the instigators of chance for the physical scientists, for example, the random origins within the atomic nuclei, are as nothing compared with the vagaries of human actions studied by social scientists. There is nothing wrong in studying facsimile problems so long as their nonreality is not forgotten. But it is so easy to accept the "best" possible, however defined, as the real thing. It is strange that the computer, which in its unthinking legerdemain can create so many answers so quickly, should be a party to this current vogue of absolutism. Once again, it is not the machine but how it is used that creates the problem. It is the use of computer results that most concerns me, the ready acceptance of an absolute finding in our world of uncertainty.

California Management Review

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