Sunday, May 7, 2017

Wisdom Versus Quantification

This week’s Sunday reflection from Philip Tetlock’s and Dan Gardner’s “Superforecasting”:
“Numbers are fine and useful things, I would say in that alternate universe, but we must be careful not to be smitten with them. ‘Not everything that counts can be counted,’ goes a famous saying, ‘and not everything that can be counted counts.’ In this era of computers and algorithms, some social scientists have forgotten that. As the cultural critic Leon Wieseltier put it in the New York Times, ‘There are ‘metrics’ for phenomena that cannot be metrically measured. Numerical values are assigned to things that cannot be captured by numbers.’ This naive positivism is running rampant, taking over domains it has no business being in. As Wieseltier poetically put it, ‘Where wisdom once was, quantification will now be.’”

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