Your presentation of traffic issues from various perspectives was interesting and thought-provoking. I have two questions for you about that. Let’s say the statistician develops a model of the traffic situation. S/he identifies the key variables and computes, for example, a multiple regression model that describes how those variables interact. The city planners may then alter those variables and (in their mind try to ease the traffic problem but in the mind of the statistician) test the veracity of the model. In your scenario, there are sociologists and economists. The sociologist may decide to educate the public, as you mention, on the basis of the probability that x hours to y people will help reduce the problem. The economist’s view will almost certainly be informed by a mathematical calculation. In the scenario you present, both the sociologist’s and economist’s calculation will involve variables that will be less directly connected to the problem than the statistician’s; theirs will be an attempt to answer the problem from a longer-term perspective.

My first question regards the face validity of the sociologist’s and the economist’s suggestions. Are they as likely to answer the problem as efficiently, as targeted and therefore more easily acceptable, as the statistician’s?

Let’s say that all three scientists attempt to answer the problem as directly as possible. The statistician keeps his/her model. The sociologist re-evaluates the situation and decides to suggest placing educational billboards at critical points in the city. The economist argues for tolls on certain congested roads. The variables that the three scientists use are still different in my reformation. However, it is possible to envisage that each of the three scientists eventually consider the same variables. Then how different are the structural equations that each generate? Is it possible that to a greater extent, each equation fundamentally is a restatement of each other? In other words, can the scenario still be reduced to a similar mathematical proposition, albeit from different perspectives?

Jim

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About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a national university.