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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Humans, analytics, algorithms and media- The logic of evaluations of relative impact of everything.

Humans, analytics, algorithms and media- The logic of evaluations of relative impact of everything.

Evaluations may be defined as   E=mc² i.e Evaluations= Mental manifestations in Contexts.

“Get out of your own way… stop the paralysis by analysis… decide what you want, create a simple plan, and get moving!” - Steve Maraboli.

I beg you… to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer. - Rainer Maria Rilke.

“Across planes of consciousness, we have to live with the paradox that opposite things can be simultaneously true.” - Ram Dass.

‘The Brain Supremacy-Notes from the Frontiers of neuroscience’- KATHLEEN  TAYLOR starts off  “Science and technology are also changing their nature—and ours.”

There are very often certain normal mistakes that every votary of some pet subject or project do when it comes to evaluation.

It is only human gullibility that both the ‘pro’ and ‘anti’ brigade in any issue may be or prone to become wrong as they tend to take extreme positions.

Very often we tend to proceed from the presumption that tastes, trends, traditions all over the world may be either similar or homogenous and worse still, sometimes presumed to be same and based on that foolish attempts are made to homogenize or over simplify or over generalize.

This presumption based manias and phobias are more prevalent in religion and politics.

They are sometimes even manipulatively and selectively used as a psycho-political tool to toss human beings into the drain of stimulus- response mechanisms which included many aspects to it like brain washing, indoctrinations, subverting, and torturing physical and mental, assigning and appropriating labels.

Unfortunately most of these functions are now used by well established main stream media in many countries.

But these are not that much misused in science and commerce because in these domains tangible and measureable results and empirical evidence matter more.

Evaluation in any domain by itself has it owns dynamics and multiple dimensions.

Broadly or as narrowly defined, they could be one or some of the following factors.

But even before we embark on these factors we need to acknowledge the fact all of us do what we know, what we can , what we want to and what we are destined to do or forced to do as per prevailing circumstances or context.

In all the above the following are some of the important aspects that are involved like our  choices, decisions, intentions, attitudes, pleasures, pressures, attributes, values, principles, social obligations, motives, ideological indoctrination based conditioned responses etc.

Some of these emanate from our inner self based on our perceptions and prioritizing them and others depend on the context or circumstances.

We cannot always exercise control over our circumstances or contexts but we can play around with to a very limited extent our inner attributes, intrinsic inclinations, inculcated attitudes and perceptions.

However, we do not realize that our perceptions themselves are extremely fallible and limited by various factors intrinsically like frames of reference and scales of observation. [1]

So, overall the mental manifestations for a same issue or event or happening or an idea can vary enormously based on various inherent qualities and short comings of every individual or ideological group and besides they can also vary according to circumstances and contexts.

It is all the result of human interplay of interactions and actions either with or without awareness of the interconnectedness or interrelatedness of everything inside and outside of oneself.
Everything and everyone change according to how we relate with them. [2]  

Analytics, algorithms and data   can provide immense SUBSTANCE but cannot infuse the SOUL of ingenuity of human interpretations, inferences and incredible interconnectivities like the human mind.

Therefore, Evaluations may be defined as   E=mc² i.e Evaluations= Mental manifestations in Contexts.

We can neither defy nor deny the importance of anything and therefore cannot prepare obituary literature or an elegant elegy for any existing profession or aspect of a profession, though everything inevitably is subjected to changes and will have to adapt to changes and redefine in its newer, renewed and rejuvenated version.

As William James says, “In the end nothing less than the whole of everything can be the truth of anything at all”.
But even what is whole is difficult to define. [3]

After all everything in life undergoes a churning process and survives or evolves better through adaptations.

It is true that many things become out dated and become antic pieces much faster than we could have imagined because of the huge strides, beneficial in many ways, made by technology.

Intelligence of human species rests in seeing the best part of any emerging new technology or system and becoming a part of it or making it as a part of existing activity through active participation.

It is always ‘and’ not ‘versus’, Humanity and technology and not ‘humanity versus technology’ [4]. Polarity principle is inherent in nature of things. [5]

Humanity itself is now puzzled between two extremes one wherein everyone is required to know or at least have a knowledge of many things to perform even the simplest task and on the other extreme one is pushed into traps of small cul-de sacs of specialization to such an extent that a day may come when we will have many  specialists for nose alone , nose bridge specialist, olfactory nerves specialist, nose hair specialist , specialist  doctor for left nostril and one for the right nostril and so on.

Fundamentally, everything and anything may be seen from various perspectives before muffling them with our ideological, religious, socio-cultural conditionings and preconceptions or opinions or judgments based on the above categories.
A sample for seeing something with a different perspective [6]

Algorithms, analytics, data are   like money, important for the things that they can provide.

However they can never replace the importance of many other factors most of which emanate from the mind, human mind.

Algorithms, analytics, data are very vital and extremely useful tool for many purposes;

I repeat many purposes because algorithms, analytics, data their strength from or because of their contributory utility.

These trends of worshiping new trends enhanced by technology that helps in handling enormous volume of work in a jiffy are all the result of conclusions arrived at due to the ecstasy of revelations of research into reverse engineering.

Tweaking anything and everything to create something new or come out with some modified version of some existing thing is both interesting and easiest way to unleash the human creative instinct and also draw certain conclusions, but all these have a saturation point or suffer from certain inherent inadequacies.

Even in natural evolution certain designs are adopted and certain others discarded based on the adaptive utility of a particular organ at a particular place and period.

To get an idea into the whole gamut of how the MIND works, not the physical organ brain, and how many things are shaped by various factors in the evolutionary process which involves almost everything or many things around, within and beyond the ken of human intellect with a more comprehensive picture of these issues I wish a more exhaustive list of reference works which are or may be related to this topic like:-

A] How the Mind works by Steven Pinker –excellent research work

B] The Emperor’s New Mind by Roger Penrose- with high dose of advanced mathematics and excellent explanation of concepts of physics.

C] The Seven Mysteries of Life – by Guy Murchie – the most exhaustive book on almost all aspects of evolutionary processes.

D] Human Destiny by Le Comte du Nüoy- the biochemical explanation of human destiny

E] Works of Richard Dawkins, Neale Donald Walsch etc

While a large volume of data can throw up lot of knowledge/information inputs it cannot initiate or ensure to either enhance thinking or contribute to clarity of understanding can even restrict frames of reference for understanding.

Basically because these happen through a very intricate, and not always logically definable, net work of interactions and independent and individual mental interpretations of which I was writing two years back while writing about importance of books.

There is nothing that has not been or cannot be put in print except, ironically, the unique relationship that a book creates between the writer and every reader.

As Simon Cheshire says, “The relationship between a writer and a reader is utterly unique to those two individuals. The world that forms in your head as you read a book will be slightly different to that experienced by every other reader. Anywhere. Ever. Reading is very personal, a communication from one mind to another, something which can't be exactly copied, or replicated, or directly shared. If I read the work of, say, one of the great Victorian novelists, it's like a gift from the past, a momentary connection to another's thoughts. Their ideas are down on paper, to be picked up by me, over a century later. Writers can speak individually to readers across a year, or ten years, or a thousand. That's why I love books.” 

These moments of unique relationship between the reader and the writer can only be summed up by what Martin Luther King, Jr. Said, “Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart.”

This reality of personal relationship that a reader develops with the book has been penned down by many authors, for example, Àngel Gonzàlez writes, “Suddenly the reader's eyes were filled with tears, and a loving voice whispered in his ear: -Why are you crying if everything in that book isn't true?- And the reader replied: -I know; but what I feel is real.” 

While a large volume of data can throw up lot of insights into the working patterns based on permutations but they  cannot provide the wisdom to choose as that comes with churning process that life undergoes in the form of experience through multitude of perspectives.

Everything happens for a reason. Life is an unmapped atlas consisting of unexplored territories and a jig saw puzzle without even all pieces available in the box.

Incidentally on 30th November 2015 a  tweet by @scientifact  is,  “The "Original Thought Theory" states that anything anyone can ever say, has already been said by someone else.

So, these words choice, decision, evaluation  are indeed difficult to describe exactly because they  have multiple meanings and are impregnated with immense sense and extraordinary significance capable of delivering great results when actually applied to the context.

Every field/domain   of activity also offers lot of positive elements, like information overload, lot of data, various suggestions, many facts, myriads of documented records of experiences and so on. But still none of these are fallacy proof or vulnerability proof or can vouch absolute reliability.

But whatever be the technology used or whatever information or data we must be cautious to avoid these usual traps while exploring the facts and we must desist getting distracted by:-Mutilating the facts, Analyzing them with preconceived notions or prejudices, Generalizing the particular and particularizing the general, Approaching facts with unloving criticism or uncritical love, Evaluating facts with our pet isms or philosophies, Resorting to statistical justifications,  Unleashing unworkable utopia,  Mask them with logical fallacies, Mute them in pleasant jargons, and Give historical justifications, Comprehend with confirmation bias or pre conceived conclusions, Trying to over simplify the complicated and over complicate the simple factors/aspects.

On matters of evaluation I have studied, written a lot and experienced through bitter experiences in many spheres that life’s churning process [which includes all areas of business as well] is not that easy to decipher nor can we be assured what it throws up but that does not mean that we have to be passive spectators or pusillanimous persons relying on conjectures and gamble without rules, plans, perspectives, methods and systematic measurements.

On evaluation even great research works like the bulky  ‘Evaluation: A Systematic Approach‘ by Peter H. Rossi, Mark W. Lipsey, and Howard E. Freeman first published  get such reviews like ‘There is never any clear instruction about how one should begin an evaluation or how one should proceed’.

The most comprehensive book on evaluations ‘ Making Evaluation Matter-a practical guide for evaluators’ by Cecile Kusters with Simone van Vugt, Seerp Wigboldus, Bob Williams and Jim Woodhill also emphasizes certain factors repeatedly and predominantly they are context/situation, situational responsiveness, stake holders, inherent qualities of the project /program/person being evaluated ,multiple roles, consequence awareness etc

In the realm of political decisions and business organizational management methodology etc these types of game play matter, but not in evaluating art, as Messick, S. (1994). Writes in The Interplay of Evidence and Consequences in the Validation of Performance Assessments. Educational Researcher, 23(2), 13–23, “Validity, reliability, comparability, and fairness are not just measurement issues, but social values that have meaning and force outside of measurement wherever evaluative judgments and decisions are made”.

Even this material also throws lot of light on evaluation ‘American Journal of Evaluation-2011-Smith-565-99.pdf

Here I am tempted to quote, “Friend to Groucho Marx: “Life is hard…” Grouch Marx to Friend: “Compared to what?”

That’s why it is better to go with the tide of the inevitable evolutionary churning process of life in all spheres of life and preferably immerse any topic or subject matter, primarily and basically with its intrinsic elements/components/aspects/attributes intact, into a cauldron which has a mixture of all these- knowledge based analysis, limited perception based on frames of reference and scales of observation, skepticism , criticism, intellectual scrutiny, compassionate emotionalism, humane socialism, rational thinking, contextual relevance [ which includes too many components] , traditions, practical viability, psychological comfort, aesthetic sensitivity, scientific scrutiny and so on  and churn the cauldron without clinging on to any particular restrictive social, cultural or political or religious identity or ideological constraint.

This process inevitably will bring out lot of outputs.

We can exercise our freedom and sometimes select and choose some of the outputs.

Sometimes the outputs will draw us.

Sometimes away from all or any of our intended searches and seeking, outside the circle of these known paradigms, almost tangentially serendipity will drag us to an oasis of serene clarity.

At all costs the intrinsic attributes must be the predominant factor so that whatever is thrown into the cauldron and however it is churned, the ultimate output must include those attributes so that evaluation is not distorted or desperately doctored to fit into any predefined and expected outcome.

So what pans out ultimately depends on various factors and aspects some of which are explainable within the ken of logical and rational thinking but some are beyond these.

There is an important element in media which goes beyond mere news paper or television channel based mundane doctored reports, sensationalism seeking in sensitive issues through gory visuals coupled with indoctrinated opinions [anyone with a good mobile handset can do that in real time] and that is the art of aesthetic writing which makes you fall in love with what you read instantly by using language with great impact and influence of total intensity and intense totality. [7]

That’s why books and reading play a very important role in human life. [8]


Besides and beyond all these, the subconscious inclination of human species to rely on one of its most powerful yet unpredictable tool –mind or conscious awareness plus accumulated thoughts and memory based brain is too deep to be unsettled ,albeit all its short comings.

Humanity subconsciously both loves and fears this tool called the human mind.

Since these two feelings of love and fear operate predominantly in human beings with varying degrees of intensities and dynamics with many names and labels, it [human mind as conscious tool] would never be away from the scene of any activity.

“All of us have our own inner fears, beliefs, opinions. These inner assumptions rule and govern our lives. A suggestion has no power in and of itself. Its power arises from the fact that you accept it mentally.” - Joseph Murphy, The Power of Your Subconscious Mind

We must realize that the subconscious mind is the law of action and always expresses what the conscious mind has impressed on it. What we regularly entertain in our mind creates a conception of self. What we conceive ourselves to be, we become.” - Speare.

A very important element or aspect of any evaluation especially in the realm of any art and more so in the art of using language as a tool or technique of art is quality of artistic appeal and impact rather than a prosaic presentation.

Even in social/political and economic development oriented activities Jane Davidson explains, “how important it is to combine a mix of qualitative and quantitative data with "relevant values" (such as needs) to draw explicitly evaluative conclusions” in his book ‘Evaluation Methodology Basics: The Nuts and Bolts of Sound Evaluation’. 

So, any evaluation which deviates from studying the inherent qualities of the thing/person that is being evaluated is unworthy. For example if one were to evaluate one’s parents should one do so based on whether they [the parents ] had qualities which had the potential to compare them with great film stars/great sports persons/ millionaires/greats artists/ great musicians/great thinkers/great scientist etc. No, not at all, the evaluation must be purely and preferably only based on how they were as parents in relationship to the concerned person in terms love, care, compassion, emotional attachment etc

Those who have read and liked the above write up can also browse through these links as they have some relevance to the topic written above [9] and [10]

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