“A Leaf in the Wind” W. Zeitler
“There’s a Longing”
Interlude D. Pole (1692-1751)
Most questions in Life, the Universe and Everything don’t fall into simple True/False categories. As much as I would have liked all my school exams to be entirely True/False questions, my teachers were too smart for that!
But Science claims it is entirely concerned with True/False — that is, a given Hypothesis is either True or False. And for the limited domain of questions Science considers, that works just fine.
But let’s consider that for a moment. Suppose I have a hypothesis/belief/assumption in my mind. And I want to compare that with Reality — how things really are:
|‘A’ really is True||‘A’ really is False|
|I believe ‘A’ is True||CORRECT!||Type 1 error|
|I believe ‘A’ is False||Type 2 error||CORRECT!|
“CORRECT!” means you got it right, and can stop reading now & go on your merry way.
But, being human, with finite human capabilities and resources, it is unavoidable that I will get it WRONG much (most?) of the time.
The chart above shows there are two ways for me to get it wrong. Suppose my hypothesis is: ‘A’ = “I am smart (at something).”
The “Type 1 error” (I believe ‘A’ is TRUE, but it really is FALSE) would be: I THINK I’m smart, but I’m really not. In this scenario, I fall squarely into “Pride goeth before the fall” and am likely to undertake endeavors beyond me — and face-plant accordingly. Generally speaking, Society is quite happy to smack down anyone whose reach exceeds their grasp. Flying rotten vegetables generally follow.
The “Type 2 error” (I believe ‘A’ is FALSE but it really is TRUE) would be: I THINK I’m NOT smart, but I REALLY AM. That is, the mistaken belief that I am ‘incapable’ when I really am — also known as ‘false humility.’ Like ‘false pride’, Scripture has something to say about that, e.g. not hiding your lamp under a bushel. But in practice, methinks the ‘false humility’ error doesn’t get nearly the press as the ‘false pride’ error. False pride can get you on the 6 o’clock news. False humility — not likely.
But falsehood is falsehood. To over — or underestimate yourself — those are both errors. To me the ‘underestimate’ error is more insidious, because it means you could easily, quietly, fail to live the life God appointed for you — because it never occurs to you that you are capable of it. I have to wonder if it is better to err on the Type 2 error side: to attempt and aspire to more than I think I am capable.
After all, what do we have to lose? Death awaits us all, regardless whether we embrace Life with courage — or not.