India Uncut

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Monday, May 09, 2005

Hello lobster

In a continuation of the discussion I began in this post, Michael Higgins writes in:
An anecdote is a single data point, and you can't get a curve from that.

However, I think there is another possiblity here that needs to be considered. Sometimes only outsiders can really sense the magnitude of a problem because the insiders' perception has been warped gradually over time. People too close to the scene of a problem might tend to discount this anecdote and this one and that one over time as exceptional when they are adding up to data that might indicate a problem.

Here is an analogy: if you place a lobster in very hot water, he will try to escape right away, but if you put a lobster in cold water and raise the temperature gradually, it will eventually die, never really sensing a problem. But I'm not at all saying that I can tell India's problems better than those who live there. I'm just saying that you need to collect data and use statistics to really make sense of a statement that "things really aren't so bad as they seem in the papers."

Bingo. And now, for some strange reason that I can’t figure out, I feel like a lobster soup. I don’t look like one, I think.
amit varma, 4:25 PM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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