Tuesday, March 03, 2009


My fiance enjoys taking pictures. She loves taking pictures. She is Asian, and the cultural stereotype about Asians and pictures is definitely true. She wants a visual record of every occasion. She wants documentation that we were there, we were together, and we were smiling.

I was discussing my research with this experienced agricultural statistician. I was complaining that my correlations suggested that agriculture was very location specific. Drawing conclusions about national agriculture was very circumspect. Now this is obvious to anyone who knows anything about agriculture, but as a researcher, I want something not so obvious.

He calmed me by saying that all we can do is take snapshots. We focus on what we want to focus on, get the results we get, and move on to the next project. We just take snapshots and the series of snapshots tell us more of the story than any single snapshot.

This snapshop philosophy is very unsatisfactory, because it leaves us always chasing something. It makes criticism of our work fair.

But it is a whole lot like the way one has to live life. One has to make decisions on the information he has available at any given time and move forward from there. It is never full information. It is just what is available at that time.

One can spend a life worrying what decision to make and never make a decision. This paralysis should be the worry.