Research: Not Everything That Counts Can Be Counted #Einstein

Research is everywhere around us where “when listening to the radio, watching the television or reading a daily newspaper it is difficult to avoid the term research.” ( Saunders et al 1997) In addition, “politicians often justify their policy decisions on the basis of research” while “newspapers report the findings of research companies’ surveys.” ( Saunders et al 1997) Furthermore, “documentary programmes tell us about research findings” where “advertisers may highlight the ‘results of research’ to encourage you to buy a particular product or brand.” ( Saunders et al 1997)

However, it is important to take into mind that “many of these everyday uses of the term research are not research in the true meaning of the word.” This is due where, ways which the term is used wrongly are:

  • just collecting facts or information with no clear purpose;
  • resembling and reordering facts or information without interpretation;
  • as a term to get your product or idea noticed and respected.

( Saunders et al 1997)

On the other hand, the true meaning of research is said to be “something that people undertake in order to find out things in a systematic way, thereby increasing their knowledge” where “systematic suggests that research is based on logical relationships and not just beliefs.” ( Saunders et al 1997)

Too many times during the day and in our life, do we rely on the work of others and based on their findings make decisions and decide on our next course of action. We hand over the responsibility to experts to find solutions to our problems and then without question we follow the advice given and implement their ideas and key judgments which we then align and adapt to our lives.

I do not suggest this should not be done, however it is something that I think should be considered and taken note of.

Another idea to note is one derived by Donal Rumsfeld who stated that in life “there are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.”( Seely 2003)

In summary, to this we should be aware of our limitations, be aware of the black swan theory which draws the readers to the idea that life is also a “cumulative effect of a handful of significant shocks”(Taleb 2010) and “people are said to be very good at fooling themselves into thinking they know much more than they do, which makes it easy for big, unusual events to surprise us.” ( Baer 2014)

In conclusion, “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” Albert Einstein (Lynn 2014)

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