Does Measurement Measure Up?: How Numbers Reveal and Conceal the Truth
There was once a time when we could not measure sound, color, blood pressure, or even time. We now find ourselves in the throes of a measurement revolution, from the laboratory to the sports arena, from the classroom to the courtroom, from a strand of DNA to the far reaches of outer space. Measurement controls our lives at work, at school, at home, and even at play. But does all this measurement really measure up? Here, John Henshaw examines the ways in which measurement makes sense or creates nonsense.
Henshaw tells the controversial story of intelligence measurement from Plato to Binet to the early days of the SAT to today's super-quantified world of No Child Left Behind. He clears away the fog on issues of measurement in the environment, such as global warming, hurricanes, and tsunamis, and in the world of computers, from digital photos to MRI to the ballot systems used in Florida during the 2000 presidential election. From cycling and car racing to baseball, tennis, and track-and-field, he chronicles the ever-growing role of measurement in sports, raising important questions about performance and the folly of comparing today's athletes to yesterday's records.
We can't quite measure everything, at least not yet. What could be more difficult to quantify than reasonable doubt? However, even our justice system is yielding to the measurement revolution with new forensic technologies such as DNA fingerprinting.
As we evolve from unquantified ignorance to an imperfect but everpresent state of measured awareness, Henshaw gives us a critical perspective from which we can "measure up" the measurements that have come to affect our lives so greatly.