Trust in Numbers: The Pursuit of Objectivity in Science and Public Life

Trust in Numbers: The Pursuit of Objectivity in Science and Public Life

Theodore M. Porter


This research of the overpowering charm of quantification within the glossy global discusses the advance of cultural meanings of objectivity over centuries. How are we to account for the present status and tool of quantitative tools? the standard solution is that quantification is obvious as fascinating in social and fiscal research because of its successes within the learn of nature. Theodore Porter isn't content material with this. Why should still the type of good fortune accomplished within the research of stars, molecules, or cells be an enticing version for study on human societies? he asks. And, certainly, how may still we comprehend the pervasiveness of quantification within the sciences of nature? In his view, we should always glance within the opposite course: comprehending the points of interest of quantification in company, executive, and social examine will educate us anything new approximately its function in psychology, physics, and medication.

Drawing on a variety of examples from the laboratory and from the worlds of accounting, coverage, cost-benefit research, and civil engineering, Porter exhibits that it truly is "exactly wrong" to interpret the force for quantitative rigor as inherent in some way within the job of technological know-how other than the place political and social pressures strength compromise. in its place, quantification grows from makes an attempt to boost a method of impersonality in line with pressures from outdoor. Objectivity derives its impetus from cultural contexts, quantification changing into most crucial the place elites are vulnerable, the place deepest negotiation is suspect, and the place belief is in brief supply.

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