Limiting Variables and a Scientific Argument for Traditionalism

Good scientists know that good experiments limit their variables. They also limit the number of experiments running on a human population at the same given time.

So what if human society was a grand experiment?

How would our various cultural philosophies handle the running of experiments? How would traditionalism and modernism set up their laboratories?

Right now it seems like the West’s “idea lab” is run by modernists, and those modernists are running a lot of different experiments: sexual revolution, single parenthood, modern diet, TV, smartphone, social media, mothers in workforce, single-use plastics, etc And those experiments are not over.

The argument for the traditionalist’s lab would be as follows: run too many experiments at once on the same population, and you’ll muddy your results. New experiments are themselves variables that change the outcomes of other experiments, leading to a situation wherein it’s really not clear if sexual promiscuity is a good social strategy, for instance, or if it’s really the modern diet or our social media feeds that are making us depressed (or both). Who can tell?

Traditionalist experiments are necessarily fewer in number and more cautious. Any experiment is viewed as radical given its relative position in the long lifespan of humanity and biological evolution (100 years is just a second in that view). And because experimentation is more limited, results are easier (though never easy) to parse out. Change happens – it just happens more slowly, with steps back to correct as well as steps forward to improve.

It seems like this is good science.

Photo by Louis Reed on Unsplash

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

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