The Tyranny of Numbers: Why Counting Can't Make Us Happy Paperback – 4 Oct 2010
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‘A great antidote to cynicism, and a sharply witty reminder of what is important in life.’ Independent
‘Wonderfully subversive.’ Guardian.
Too often we try to quantify what can't actually be measured. We count people, but not individuals. We count exam results rather than intelligence, benefit claimants instead of poverty. The government has set itself 10,000 new targets. Politicians pack their speeches with skewed statistics: crime rates are either rising or falling depending on who is doing the counting. We are in a world in which everything is designed only to be measured. If it can't be measured it can be ignored. The problem is what numbers don't tell you - they won't interpret, they won't inspire, and they won't tell you precisely what causes what. In this book, David Boyle examines our obsession with numbers. He reminds us of the danger of taking numbers so seriously at the expense of what is non-measurable, non-calculable: intuition, creativity, imagination, and happiness.See all Product description
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The quantification of the human has already started and the tyranny of numbers will one day feel like this is how it has always been, like in Orwell, we have always been fighting Oceanana!
Ian McGilchrist's Master and his Emissary is another highly recommended tour of how we became quality blind.
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"Numbers existed even before the universe itself, according to Pythagoras. But even that was too mild for St Augustine of Hippo, who declared that six was such a perfect number that it would be so even if the world dodn't exist at all" (page 5).
There are many interesting excerpts to read and think about, and they are alaborated upon with great thought here in Boyle's book. If you like unique reads, and if numbers interest you, great book for the long flight, or evenings on the sofa.