Asking the Right Questions

That idea, asking the right questions, needs to become a research topic for social sciences/business/government/anything that uses statistics (meaning: everything).

As an example, I am working with an organization that is attached to a national level organization.  The national level has a survey for the individual organizations to fill out which asks about various aspects of the organization.  Filling out this little survey though gives the specific organization I am a part of a pretty bad grade though because this survey fails to ask whether the organization has it’s own building, where the organization is geographically in reference to military and/or minority groups.  Pretty important things that will not be taken into account when filing the paperwork I am sure.

Take a look at grant reports for development work world-wide too;  they bring to mind a phrase I heard once, “Development projects never fail.” None of the grants will ever report a failure although, if you return to those project sites maybe a year later, it will be awfully difficult to find a success.  Take a closer look at the reports though and the things they ask for are “how many individuals are taught x?”; “how many x were built?”; “how much money was made through x-technique?” All factors in a successful development project but certainly not the final factors and, I suspect, not even the most important factors.

This was the strength of journalism: helping show the details lost in the statistics; but, we all know where that discussion goes at the moment.

So, if these questions are unfair, asking the wrong questions or not actually help improve what is going on, it would seem that we need to learn how ask questions properly.  What these questions are, I am not sure yet.  I will state that the questions are not nearly as easy to ask or measure though looks like we might have to step back from our love affair with numbers or, at least, recognize that they are representations of a much more complicated world.  Maybe the first question to ask, what is the specific situation of x in comparison to other places we are measuring?

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Change of Topic

For a bit of a change of speed, I will just be sharing some questions for today and they focus on food.

Namely the question is, has anyone ever done a study on food coming from the same place/environment?
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ust search for the health benefits or detriments of basically any food and you can find at least one page talking about it and who knows how many recipes. You can also sometimes find some combinations that go well, “eat fats with this veggie because vitamins in the vegetable are fat-soluble,” “eat yogurt in the sunlight because vitamin D and calcium go together. Not to mention when to eat what type of macro-nutrient, pre-work out, post-workout, morning, evening, down to the minutes essentially. This is all okay in its own way I am sure but no one ever seems to have asked the question, do these foods coming from the same place in the world work together?

Say, for example, the “three sisters” grown by Native Americans, squash, beans and maize.  Luckily the wikipedia page does mention how beans and maize come together for proteins needed in the diet.  But the squash is entirely dropped at this point, is there nothing that the squash would have to add to this combination besides just growing well with the other two foods? I have no idea and it would be nice if there was something done to find out for my curiosity. Is this, two foods coming together well for human consumption the only time that this has ever happened though? I highly, highly doubt it.

Let’s look at another example from North America: tomatoes and avocados.  They are both native to Mexico and Central America.  Do those two foods maybe come together for health well and not just in taste like in guacamole?

Maybe I just have not come across these studies or commentaries yet, but it is a question that comes up every once in a while.  This is also saying that there cannot be other combinations, but couldn’t there be some truth or benefits to knowledge and practices that came about before science performed the right tests to “prove” them?