Information Age


I went to the doctor today for a consult before I attempted to get pregnant again (because of my miscarriage history). I left thinking about God’s sovereignty and humans worshipping at the idol of data (I had some metropolis-like imagery of humans worshipping a giant computer in my head at this point, but that’s neither here nor there.).
The doctor told me that “the data now shows” that women shouldn’t get pregnant earlier than 18 months after giving birth. Other than opinions of child-spacing, I hadn’t heard this from a medical standpoint before. I asked her why and she said that women who did so had a higher risk of anemia. I asked her to tell me more about anemia and she said it had side effects such as exhaustion and feeling too tired to get up and work (at which I said, “Man, I must already have anemia!” She didn’t think it was funny. I followed this up by saying, “Isn’t that just the sign of new parents? Exhausted? Too tired to do work?” Again, she was clearly not amused, which made me question if I ever wanted to see her again. How can you not think that’s funny!?! So sad.).
So, I asked her what the chances were of getting anemia and she said she did “not have access to that data.” So, I’m thinking, do half of all women get it? Or like 1 in 10,000? Because, if we’re going to be swinging data around to help me determine my life’s path, then I want to know all of the data.
I feel afraid for this information age. I feel that many have replaced God with data and statistics and market analysis and anything else that gets run through a computer. When you are afraid, see what the data tells you to find strength in. When you are hopeless, the data will tell you your best shot at success. When you have given up, the data will give you the strength to carry on (or tell you if you were right to give up!).
This reminds me of when my dad used to do his research at the University and, after giving years worth of data to the statistician, would be asked, “And how do you want this data to read?” Meaning, what is your report on so we can skew the data in your favor? My dad would usually respond, “Just run the numbers and you tell me if you see anything worthwhile. Then we’ll know how it reads.” He was a rebel.
The thing that data-worshippers are missing is that data and statistics can be manipulated in so many ways. Regardless of what the numbers say, human error has it’s fingerprints all over most data (poorly written measuring tools, personal bias, skewing of numbers, leaving out pertinent information, etc.) It isn’t something you can trust, and it isn’t something you should lean on as your life’s guide. And it definitely isn’t something to stake your life on.
Granted, I’m not saying that looking at data is bad or evil. I think there are times when data is very relevant and very telling. But, in this case, I think it’s probably not as big of a deal as my doctor made it out to be. (But, if I come on later and announce that I have anemia, you can toss out a quality Nelson Muntz “Ha-HA!” to me…)
In the end, I trust God’s sovereign plan for my life. He will decide how many babies I lose, and how many babies I give birth to, and how many children we adopt. Whether it be many or none. He rules over my family and I yield to Him. I trust him far more than anything spit out by a computer.