Enter your name and e-mail address to quickly register to comment and be notified of new articles.
Quick Reg!

one moment please...

Check out the Academy of Reason. Online Courses for the Free Thinking Community!
Blog Home Tags: Print

Descriptive vs. Prescriptive

image loading... by Bo Bennett, PhD, Social Scientist, Business Consutlant
posted Friday May 24, 2013 12:00 AM

image loading...

Bo Bennett, PhD

Social Scientist, Business Consutlant

About Bo Bennett, PhD

You can read my full bio at http://www.BoBennett.com.

My wife shared an entertaining column with me from the April 1 issue of TIME magazine. In short, it is about how the columnist pitted his marriage against the algorithms of the online dating site, eHarmony. In taking the eHarmony compatibility test, the columnist and his wife received a "0" in one category because they are both atheists—and according to the eHarmony algorithm, atheists are not as happy in marriage. The validity of that "fact" aside, algorithms and statistics are descriptive, meaning they describe data obtained from current samples, they are NOT prescriptive, meaning they do not alter the chances of any individual relationship succeeding. This might seem like a minor detail, but the psychological implications are significant. Specifically, since beliefs can lead to self-fulfilling prophecies.

When you see studies and statistics that appear to tell you how likely you are to fail or get some horrible disease, remember that these studies and statistics are describing averages and likelihoods based on sample data—they are NOT describing YOU, and certainly not offering a prescription to your future. Acknowledge the risks, be mindful of the statistics, and take action toward the future you desire, not the one described to you based on sample data.

Private, Anonymous Comment On This Post (no login required)Your comment below will be anonymously sent to the post owner, it will not be posted, and you will not get a response. To make a public comment, post below (login required).

Send Comment sending comment...

Registered User Comments

Get the Book.

"A delightful combination of straight talk, friendly challenge and a singular absence of bitter ax-grinding... he shows in plain-spoken, engaging prose how his view (and mine!) just makes better common sense.  I just love the section on heaven!  This book is quite and achievement.  Read it!" - Dr. Robert M. Price, Professor of Theology and Scriptural Studies, Host of "The Bible Geek"

Get the book, The Concept by Bo Bennett, by selecting one of the following options:

Check Out Our Secular Online University: AcademyofReason.com

If you spent your life assuming "God" was the answer to all of life's biggest questions, but can no longer believe, you might have many questions that begin with the phrase, "If there is no God..." If there is no God, how did we get here? If there is no God, what's the point of life? If there is no God, where does our morality come from"? If there is no God, won't the world collapse in anarchy with murdering, coveting thy neighbor's wife, and eating shellfish? These are just some of the common questions to which there are good answers. These courses will help you build a strong foundational secular worldview based in science and reason.

Have a podcast or know someone who does? Putting on a conference? Dr. Bennett is available for interviews and public speaking events. Contact him directly here.

About Archieboy Holdings, LLC. Privacy Policy Other Books Written by Bo Contact
 Website Design and Software Copyright 2018, Archieboy Holdings, LLC. 

Component Viewer

A component is the HTML code for a section of a webpage that can be combined with other components to make a complete webpage. Click the component to insert the component code at the bottom of your current page, then customize it.