Before the end of 2026, a new major sub-discipline, that intersects statistics and perception science, will have emerged involving the gulf between two kinds of perception: the first being what we normally consider intuitive perception of experiences, and the second being how we perceive those same experiences in terms of quantitative measurements. The new take: rather than them as an automatic push from “subjectivity” to “objectivity”, we’ll recognize them as divergent perceptions that are vulnerable to similar kinds of distortion.
Now that I’m writing this, I’m recalling useful arguments to this effect in Gilles Deleuze’s “Difference and Repetition” (1969) and “Bergsonism” (1988). But these haven’t escaped the philosophy department lounge. Sometime in the next few years, we’ll be newly empowered to see the problem via FMRI studies, neural modeling, and so on. In particular, science journalists, statisticians, and perception theorists will have undertaken at least one new high-profile campaign to overhaul our understanding of *probability*, and to recognize that statistics has always been, implicitly, a cultural studies field: not so much a way of determining raw probabilities and patterns, as a way of managing our misunderstandings of them. This has always been clear in “information theory” terms:words like significance, margin, noise, and randomness, are acknowledged as guards against culturally-determined pitfalls in assessing data. But in the middle of the current decade, we’ll extend that observation more generally, to break one of the persistent hierarchies between what we call qualitative and quantitative thinking in general.
This won’t have anything to do with past efforts to render all kinds of information equivalent, or “relative” or culturally dependent. instead, it will pertain to, and open doors to, more explicit opportunities in science methods, that is, opportunities to strengthen quantitative questions about experience. We’ll seek to have better understanding of just how much distortion and narrativistic meaning our minds necessarily and constantly pass across numbers in their contexts, in order to give them any “value” at all. Thanks for reading — I’ll see you in 2027.