Saturday, November 17, 2007

Hitch hikers guide to the galaxy?

Does anyone remember a little British show called the Hitch hikers guide to the galaxy? In that program, a group of people created a machine to calculate the answer to the ultimate question, of life, the universe and everything. The final answer was 42. Everyone was happy to know the answer, but didn't really know what it meant. So they invented an even bigger computer to work out what the actual question was...
I guess this is my slightly warped, but interesting view of the whole idea of what research is. We may find answers to wonderful questions, but do we actually understand the questions themselves. Or even the methods of obtaining answers to questions? How can we be certain that the processes that we are using are either accurate or valid. When I studied the testing unit here at USQ, I came across the ideas of validity and reliability, and developing consistent and proven methods of evaluating students. Time seemed to factor into the equation, as well as healthy skepticism of ones own creations.
I guess that one thing that the hitch-hikers guide taught me, was that we may develop understandings, but those understandings must remain open, as there may be other interpretations to our theories. And the ideas we have or the questions we ask, may not provide us with satisfactory answers that we can be happy with.
This is not to say that we stop asking, but keep searching for better understanding...
What do you say?
Steve M.

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