List of numbers

Economic and social aspects of retirement.

01 February 1995
Share on :


Rehabilitating doubt.
He who believes is happy, he who doubts is wise (Hungarian proverb).

The approach of the presidential election has once again brought us our harvest of pleasures, big and small. As if the breathless anticipation of the shocking results of the latest poll were not enough to delight us, the campaign allows us to revel in the candidates' declarations of ironclad convictions, marked by the seal of inflexibility. Indeed, there seems to be a growing temptation to measure the world in polls and sum it up in a few definitive formulas. Isn't the best effect these days to assert prefabricated opinions, and to do so with all the more confidence and self-satisfaction the more caricatured and simplistic they are? Especially when the figures are there to say it for us. Every field, from politics to the arts to economics, is familiar with this trend, which shows that doubt, like crime, doesn't pay. Aren't we over-simplifying things by reducing all subjects to binary debates? As if a world destabilized by excessive complexity were seeking the illusion of comfort by clinging to the first number that came along, the first ready-made certainty. We urgently need to rehabilitate doubt. Claiming the right to have no clear-cut opinion is not proof of indifference, nor is it an obstacle to action. The ability to dialogue and question, rather than artificial certainties, enables us to move forward. Of course, we all need reference points and simple indicators, but only if we know their real scope and limits. Statisticians and economists have acquired this ability to question the world, to give figures their meaning, to know that an answer is only ever an open door to another question... That's why ENSAE offers one of the highest levels of scientific training, perhaps the most relevant to today's world. I am deeply moved as I hand over the reins to Nicolas Denis. We've come a long way since the first photocopied pages of the now defunct 44 Bulletin de liaison! Variances is still in its infancy. It's up to all of us to guide it into adulthood.

Laurent Doubrovine