ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Autonomy of Demographic Variables

Autonomy of Demographic Variables K N Harilal MARI BHAT and Irudaya Rajan (EPW, September 1-8, 1990) begin their paper on demographic transition in Kerala with the following words of Lord Kelvin, "...when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely, in your thoughts, advanced to the stage of Science, whatever the matter may be". Notwithstanding well known objections to the cited and similar approaches to the theory of knowledge we appreciate the quest for precision and accuracy. However, while encouraging the urge for precision, we should also ensure that the precise statements and numbers so derived truly represent the original ideas lest we all be caught up in a mess of precise but meaningless numbers.

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