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 improvement of cultural meanings of objectivity over centuries. How are we to account for the present status and tool of quantitative equipment? the standard resolution is that quantification is visible as fascinating in social and monetary research because of its successes within the examine of nature. Theodore Porter isn't really content material with this. Why should still the type of good fortune accomplished within the examine of stars, molecules, or cells be an enticing version for learn 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 path: comprehending the points of interest of quantification in enterprise, executive, and social study will educate us whatever new approximately its position in psychology, physics, and drugs.

Drawing on quite a lot 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 task of technology other than the place political and social pressures strength compromise. as an alternative, quantification grows from makes an attempt to strengthen a technique of impersonality in keeping with pressures from open air. Objectivity derives its impetus from cultural contexts, quantification changing into most crucial the place elites are susceptible, the place inner most negotiation is suspect, and the place belief is in brief supply.

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