Metaanalysis – A Strategic Analysis of Science

By Zulumathabo Zulu (c0 2016)


The concept of metaanalysis as used in my writings is not the same as in the concept of meta-analysis that was first described By Gene Glass in 1976 as a statistical method. What he described as analysis of analyses, was in fact aggregation analysis of previous research studies based on commonality with respect to the methodological research question. The methodological analysis of previous studies is the basis of meta-analysis of Glass.

In my reference to metaanalysis, we are describing the superset of the data of a particular knowledge discipline or research question. Our metaanalysis is inspired by the numerical logic of the Basotho and is concerned with the superset analysis of the subset. The superset analysis includes the methods, the algorithms, the heuristics, the taxonomy, the ontology and the axiology of the knowledge discipline. Metaanalysis is synonymous with metascience but is more concerned with analysis whereas metascience is concerned with the meta description of the knowledge system.

This metascientific methodology (also known as QYL – Qapollo Ya Lewa) derives its philosophical underpinnings from the Basotho system of geomancy wherein an axiom of strategic knowledge known as Lewa (strategic knowledge) is given to the client who has come to consult Ngaka Ya Mosotho (a Mosotho doctoral expert in geomancy) about a particular issue. The Basotho system of geomancy is based on cosmic knowledge and the geomancic bones exist as models of the star systems. This concept of geomancy based on cosmic knowledge is a powerful concept because when the mathematical objects of the geomancy are thrown on the ground, the Mosotho doctoral expert demonstrates the modelling of the expansive galaxy in front of the client. Instead of the client seeing the substructure of the phenomenon, the client is gaining an insight into the superstructure of the phenomenon.

As an alternative to the operational details about the phenomenon, Ngaka gives an axiomatic statement that describes the strategic knowledge of the phenomenon. The Lewa axiom offers a distilled description without the operational details. If the client wishes to learn more about the axiom, then they need to spend time with the doctoral practitioner to get a more detailed description.

Why Withhold the Details?

The Basotho philosophers consider the details to be the second order of business. The first order of business is the strategic knowledge of the phenomenon. We see this methodological approach in the sacred calendar of the Basotho. In the New Year of Phato (August begins the new year), the Basotho hold a ceremony known as Mokete Wa Lewa (the ceremony of strategic knowledge). In this ceremony, they are not concerned about the details but rather the vision and the broad strokes of strategic direction. They do this because the details are considered to be the small data set whereas the strategic knowledge is regarded as the big data set.

Why Metaanalysis?

To understand the value of metaanalysis, we need to understand how the current scientific method works. The scientific method was heavily influenced by the religious establishment in Europe. In fact the title Doctor means a religious teacher. Science did not have a problem retaining the title of Doctor but without the metaphysical speculation of religiosity.

Science is a knowledge discipline that gives us a literal account of the phenomenon. Science is more interested in the molecular structure of the phenomenon. This means that science gives us a disciplinary description of the phenomenon. A disciplinary description describes the substructure of the phenomenon. This is a methodological limitation of the scientific method.

When you consult a Western trained doctor, he will take a blood sample in order to analyze the molecular structure of your blood. In this way, he is describing the substructure of the phenomenon.

Metaanalysis is not about the substructure but the superstructure of the phenomenon. Methodologically, the metaanalysis and the metascience are describing the superstructure of the phenomenon. This means that things like epistemology, ontology, and axiology can be better analyzed at a superset level.

It is interesting to note that the Basotho knowledge system has always been based on a metascientific methodology long before the dawn of science in Europe.

The Metascientific Methodology

In the Western positivist tradition, a researcher must first hypothesize and select a research method before the research project can be approved. The type of data to be collected is first determined prior to field work.

The Basotho also have the concept of research but with a different methodological approach. A doctoral student in the Basotho doctoral knowledge is required to learn about research, writing and data types in addition to their extensive doctoral knowledge system depending on the doctoral knowledge system the student is pursuing. There are different doctoral systems like Bogaka, Bongakachitja, Bokgerenkgwa, Bokoma, Bonkgekge, Bothuwela, Bototojane, Boqobodi, Boroka, among others.

The geomancic bones require to be written in order for the doctoral practitioner to assign the proper function to each one. The writing system used is not based on the alphabet but on a logosyllabric system. There are several sets of the geomancic bones like Kgola, Phalafala and others. These can number anywhere from 4 to more than 30 depending on the region.

Some of the sets of the geomancy are already determined and the doctoral candidate cannot change those like Kgola and Phalafala. These sets are like read only or ROM in computer systems. Other geomancy bones require the doctoral student to go into the village to gather data in order to use that data as a template to customize the other sets of the geomancic bones. It is this research enterprise of the Basotho doctoral system that is interesting. Instead of choosing the research methodology prior to the field work as in the Western positivist tradition, she will be methodologically guided by the type of data available in the village. This makes a lot of sense if you come to think about it.

Suppose a variety of data types like continuous data; discontinuous data and discrete data. These data types necessitate different methodological approaches. A continuous data may use numerical methods like approximation; a discrete data may require a counting method whereas a discontinuous data may require a mixed method of approximation and counting. The use of numerical methods like estimation; combinatorics; approximation; mining and others as functions of available data in the field is a powerful concept! In this way, the researcher is guided by the type of data in the field in order to select the correct methodological approach towards data gathering and analysis. Even if the researcher has pre-determined the method, the researcher must discard that method in the field in favour of the correct method with respect to the field data.

This is exactly what a doctoral student has to do when gathering data from the village in order to produce the template for the Basotho system of geomancy.





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