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Trust in Numbers: The Pursuit of Objectivity in Science and Public Life (Princeton Paperbacks) Paperback – 16 Sep 1996


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Product details

  • Paperback: 326 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; New Ed edition (16 Sept. 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691029083
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691029085
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 1.7 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 717,767 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review


Porter's book is compelling, beautifully written, and makes an important contribution to our understanding of one of the most fundamental features of modernity: the rise of quantification. -- Contemporary Sociology



. . . provides a powerful means for understanding quantification in a variety of different contexts. -- American Journal of Sociology


. . . provides a powerful means for understanding quantification in a variety of different contexts. -- "American Journal of Sociology

Porter's book is compelling, beautifully written, and makes an important contribution to our understanding of one of the most fundamental features of modernity: the rise of quantification. -- "Contemporary Sociology

The essence of science is quantification, and this is what holds Porter's fascination. The book is an engaging attempt to account for the prestige and power of quantitative methods in the modern world.--Ann Oakley "British Medical Journal "

A highly original series of historical and philosophical reflections. . . .--M. Norton Wise "British Journal for the History of Science "

A closely reasoned, densely written historical account of how nonscientific people came to use numbers for political purposes. . . . When there is nothing else to trust, it seems, people trust numbers.--Rudy Rucker "Scientific American "

Porter delivers a fine, scholarly account of how numerical measurement is used both to standardise results and to communicate them unambiguously.--Jon Turney "New Scientist "


The essence of science is quantification, and this is what holds Porter's
fascination. The book is an engaging attempt to account for the prestige and
power of quantitative methods in the modern world.
--Ann Oakley "British Medical Journal "


A highly original series of historical and philosophical reflections. . .
.
--M. Norton Wise "British Journal for the History of Science "

From the Inside Flap

"Ted Porter's work on the history of quantification transforms our understanding of the social meaning of numbers, and of the social meaning of objectivity."--Evelyn Fox Keller, MIT

"A fine, scholarly account of how numerical measurements are used both to standardize results and to communicate them unambiguously."--Jon Turney

"This book is a wholly original contribution to both political science and moral philosophy, written with the precision of an historian skilled at bringing to life the dustiest of bureaucratic archives."--Ian Hacking, University of Toronto

"This is a fascinating and innovative book, which breaks new cross-disciplinary ground. Porter offers rigorous and detailed analyses of cases, while he also ventures to explore the causes and consequences of quantification for the place and authority of scientific conclusions in contemporary global culture. The book is broad in scope, and Porter delineates a set of issues which will, I expect, catalyze many fresh and fruitful lines of inquiry."--Elisabeth A. Lloyd, University of California, Berkeley

"An outstanding example that the history of science, or science studies more generally, has come of age. At last we have a scholar as adept as Theodore Porter to produce a work that is able to sustain a compelling view of the theme of objectivity in science. This is a cause for celebration: a synthetic history of scientific culture that shows considerable flair for the philosophical and sociological dimensions as well. Best of all, Porter has an eye for ironic plays between the necessary and the contingent, whether in medical statistics or flood control engineering. The book is beautifully written, in a style that is simultaneously erudite yet personable. . . . This is a cultural history in the best sense of the term."--Margaret Schabas, York University

"A remarkable book. . . . It takes up an issue of pervasive import in contemporary academic and governmental society alike and gives it a sustained examination over diverse historical, philosophical, and administrative territory. The subject, though familiar, takes on a completely new coloring and import. And while the perspective is controversial throughout, Porter makes his views seem eminently reasonable, almost the natural product of common sense"--M. N. Wise, Princeton University

"This original and daring study is about distance, both literal and metaphorical. Porter asks how the far-flung scientific 'community' holds together across oceans and continents, and how polities atomized by heterogeneity and distrust reach consensus when interests clash. He argues that the authority of scientific and technological experts in pluralistic democracies is often quite weak, and that their frequent recourse to quantitative methods is actually a concession to openness rather than a smoke screen to exclude the uninitiated."--Lorraine Daston, University of Chicago

"This exceptional study of the development of quantification and quantitative argumentation in public discourse is broadly conceived and meticulously researched. . . . That Porter has set these matters out with such clarity, and that they are matters of such real importance to the scientific community, should commend this book to a vast readership."--E. Roy Weintraub, Duke University

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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