How do we learn to approximate? Or, more approximately, how do we learn when it is appropriate (or inappropriate) to approximate?
When and how did we learn that there is a distinction with a difference between an engineer constructing a tall building and a chef adding a few more spices than what the recipe calls for — that consequences derived from the difference between approximation and precision make a world of difference? Or even the amateur chef in mistaking a sprinkle of salt for a cupful, or of a judge in the Olympics who shrugs his or her shoulders and says, “close enough”, when the difference between a fraction of a second or an approximation thereof means the awarding of a gold, silver or bronze medal?
How close is the enemy? Approximately a mile or so away, give or take a few hundred yards…could mean the difference between victory or defeat.
How old is the earth? Multi-billions of years, give or take a few, or count the genealogy of religious texts and multiply them accordingly. Any consequences for believing one paradigm over another, and aren’t both merely approximations, anyway? How precise can a science be when the claim is made that X is 500 billions years old? Could it not be 499 or 498 billion years old, instead? In terms of percentages of being “off”, it is minor; but in gross numbers, a billion here or a billion there could mean quite a difference; just look at the investors of Facebook who recently lost a good portion of their portfolio.
Approximations are fine, but they need to be tempered by conditions and circumstances, and for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition where the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, to “approximate” where precision is required may not be the best approach in putting together one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.
Of course, “the law” is never a precise endeavor, and cannot come close to requiring an engineer’s reliance upon mathematical calculations nor even of an architect’s blueprint for constructing an archway.
However, precision of legal argumentation; proper wording of medical narratives; careful positing of legal citations — these are all approximations which, in their aggregate, accord a greater precision in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in enhancing the greater chance of an approval for each stage of the process, as it is precisely the greater approximation of precision that allows for lessening the imprecision of that which comes closest to the approximation of a science in a non-scientific discipline.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire