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Be Wary of Categories
“All models are wrong. Some models are useful.”
I was thinking of this today when I read about bison, which belong to a different species and genus than cows – and yet can – and have – crossbred with cows. Of the 500,000 bison in North America today, only about 3,000, we are told, are still “purebred,” the way they were when millions roamed the prairies. Animals from a different genus and species can, in fact, breed. (And for some reason, people are obsessed with creating and preserving “purebreds.” Imagine if they tried that with white people!)
People often foolishly rely on categorizations. I have lost count of people who tell me their Myers-Brigg personality type, as if such a description is dispositive, and will tell me what a person will do in a given situation. Speak for yourself!
Similarly, I was once criticized for calling CO2 “plant food” because plants, don’cha know, are “autotrophs,” which literally translates as “self-producing.” Tell that to the plant when it lacks CO2 and dies.
We always need to remember that labels, while useful, are never fully accurate. Relying on categories to be the truth, as opposed to merely conveniently describe a part of it, is a bit like thinking that mathematics, because it can be used to model the universe, is thus the “true” descriptor of the physical world.Published in General
This is true only in the early stages of speciation, where the distinction is already strained. It is not true in general that different species can interbreed/crossbreed. Rather, in general that is false, by definition. There are seams in the thing to be sure, because reality is not the model.
A model can still be quite useful yet be represented in a way (say, a starkly divided tree on a page) which does not explain the whole of the thing — how could it?
Reification of abstractions is the tendency of people to view abstractions as actual things.
The writer Andre Maurois asserted the people who are intelligent, but not creative, tend to latch onto intellectual systems created by others and to hold to those systems fiercely.
The obsessive categorization of everything by race/ethnicity is an example of such an intellectual system, and ‘intelligent but not creative’ describes a high % of academics and media people.
That reminds me: Did you know what the mother buffalo said to her child when he first left for school? “Bison”.
This is such a good point! They are obsessed with labels that may only have a passing familiarity with objectively knowable metrics.
I am certain that the Myers-Briggs can’t be right. According to the results of several tests taken over the course of 40 years I have been consistently identified as an ENTP. If that were accurate, this would be true of me: “The ENTP personality type is a creative one. They enjoy intellectual stimulation and tend to always have new ideas. They generally don’t like being confined by order or routines. They often want to debate and hear other perspectives outside of their own.”
Myers-Briggs is horoscopes. Satanic Pseudoscience. Also, like all so-called personality tests, discrimination lawsuit material.
Categories are developed by fields of endeavor, and can wreak untold havoc upon the society.
Look at the field of psychiatry.
It has so many categories tha the DSM – the encyclopedia of names for various “psych” disorders – now spans 5 editions.
From the http://wchsa.org website
DSM-5 List of Mental Disorders – WCHSA
Any trait or combination of traits at a pathological level that does not fall into one of the above categories. Note: Paranoid, Schizoid, Histrionic, and Dependent personality disorders, is considered hyperactive and needs a med to calm down.all of which were categorized separately in the DSM-IV, now fall under ‘Personality Disorder Trait Specified’ in the DSM-5.######
Because such ailments listed in the DSM are to be considered as psych ailments, does it not stand to reason that psych meds would be the best way to retrieve an individual from such ailments?
And so our society is now in the pickle of having some 6 to 7% of American kids on psych meds by 3rd grade.
Why? Because a child who is fidgety and can’t sit still is labeled hyperactive. Perhaps that condition would be far less frequent in our society if kids still walked half a mile to school, or rode their bikes, rather than being chauffered by mom, dad or the nanny.
The sad thing about our society is how this driving the kids to school behavior occurs in the very stable neighborhoods of green trees and pastoral settings. Meanwhile in crime ridden neighborhoods, the schools often no longer support recess, as the playground itself is subject to driveby shootings.
Other labels the DSM now offers our society are these:
Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder;
Internet Gaming Disorder;
Major Depressive Disorder.
Mild Neurocognitive Disorder;
Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders;
Paraphilic Disorders Personality.
Something that we “right wing hysterics” should consider: There are also new categories that have come about that basically purport that anyone with enough intelligence and curiosity to question authority can be labeled as suffering from some type of psychiatric disorder. (Shades of the old Soviet Union, with its mental wards filled to the brim with some type of insanity.)
Of course, there are meds for many of these”disorders.” Never mind that some cases of clinical depression can be cleared from the individual with a diet that is close to zero MSG additions.
Taking a schizophrenic patient and working on determining their food allergies has shown vast improvements as well. Gluten and dairy are often discovered as being key food substances that once eliminated, allow the person to approach near health.
Gluten is associated with inflammation – so perhaps using MMS or chlorine dioxide would clear enough inflammation that a bi polar individual could restore their health too.
I guess the mom knew that her formerly hetero son would soon be “bi” once the school system tweaked his outlook.