Trial and Error
No person who once studied chemistry can ever forget balancing the chemical equations. There are more scientific methods of balancing such equations, but everyone starts with the popular trial and error method. Some call it ‘hit and trial’. In this method, you guess a solution for one part or section of the equation and try applying it to the whole equation to balance it. If you ever balanced equations as a chemistry beginner, you might not have forgotten the pages you dirtied with overwriting.
The ban on pornographic sites: trial and error
Forget about chemistry for a while. In a broader view, the method of trial and error is a fundamental method used in problem-solving. Society is never void of problems, and solving the problems of the society is a known purpose of state policies. Nepali policies make extensive use of the method of trial and error in solving the problems of society.
Guess, which is the foundation of the trial and error method, has always guided Nepali laws and policies. The recent government ban on pornographic sites is a perfect example of trial and error culture in Nepali policymaking since there does not seem to be any valid ground, rather a guess. The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MoCIT) issued a press release on September 21 instructing the Nepal Telecommunication Authority (NTA) to block all the pornographic sites accessible in the country and many sites have been blocked by now. Nepal government could cite nothing more than a clause from Criminal (Code) Act, 2074BS, that too debatable in multiple grounds, in order to ban such sites. The clause in the Criminal (Code) Act, 2074BS has mentioned nothing about the private use of pornographic contents, rather it says about only public use. The intention of government cannot be questioned in this case. The problem lies in the approach.
We may or may not have needed such policy. But, on what basis did government conclude that ban on pornographic sites in Nepal can discourage rapes? Does the government have any idea about the consequences? Is the idea even feasible? A lot of such questions are coming to the surface regarding the abrupt and unplanned step of the government. Such a sensitive case needed at least a study on the relationship between pornography and rape in Nepali society. But, there was not even a simple reasoning in the government’s statement. Nepal Government seems to have taken the trial and error approach just to pacify the uprising against the government after its failure in ‘Nirmala Rape-Murder case’ and other recent cases of similar nature.
Globally there is a culture of using studies and research in making policies. Some governments themselves fund research which are of national interest. Our culture is trial and error.
Problems with the approach
Since the method of trial and error is based on guess, it is not a reliable approach to solve problems, either in chemistry or in society. In this method, when one guess is made, other steps to attempt the solution of the problem are guided by the guess, sometimes even leading to no solution at all. Use of such an unreliable method to make policies for society can be nothing but an act of an inexperienced person. The ban on pornography is just a result of the government’s guess on solving the problem of increasing number of rape cases. There are other steps to be followed by the government in its attempt to solve the problem completely. If the guess is wrong, the government is sure to face hurdles since other parts do not get balanced. Regarding pornography ban policy, the government seems to have considered only the increasing number of increasing rape cases, while other important factors of the pornography ban like people’s psychology and consequences of the ban have totally been neglected.
Another problem with the approach is the loss of time. It used to take me a lot of time to balance a chemical equation using the trial and error in early school days. Sometimes I even ended up without a solution. While in grade 11, I could balance such chemical reactions using a more scientific ‘Oxidation-Reduction’ method without much loss of time. Every government is for a limited tenure, so time matters. It is not good for such a responsible body to implement a decision and check whether it comes true or not. Use of scientific methods like evidence-based methods in policymaking rather than mere guesses can save a lot of time, effort, and resources for the government
Use of scientific methods: the ultimate solution
Policymakers are not like amateur chemistry students from the school. They are like veteran chemists who perform important reactions in their labs. So, dealing with the problems of society is much more like carrying out a chemical reaction to get products than just balancing those equations on a piece of paper. A chemist does not guess on how many moles of a chemical should be reacted with certain moles of others to get her desired dream compound. She does a thorough study on them and also on external factors like temperature. Our policymakers are in an illusion that they just balancing the societal equations in a paper. In fact, they are doing beyond that, carrying out the real reactions to bring the results for the society.
If we analogize policymakers with chemists, the policymakers have a lot more to do than just making guesses. They should conduct studies on what sort of policies are needed for the state. There exists the method of evidence-based policymaking which relies on rigorously established objective evidence in the society. The government should be able to track the relation between cause and effects before implementing a policy. It needs to be conscious of the scope and other connected factors of a policy. There was not even a single sign of such approach in the porn ban. Such serious matter deserved at least a survey. Our government made conclusions on its own rather than being guided by studies and reasons.
We are yet to see the consequences of the unplanned policy of the porn ban. Dear government, please use scientific methods in making policies for our society. Continued use of trial and error can bring imbalance in the society and society cannot be overwritten time and again like an answer paper of a school student. We do not want our society to fail.