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Democratic VistasReflections on the Life of American Democracy$
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Jedediah Purdy, Anthony Kronman, and Cynthia Farrar

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780300102567

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300102567.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM YALE SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.yale.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Yale University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in YSO for personal use.date: 07 December 2021

The Misuse of Numbers: Audits, Quantification, and the Obfuscation of Politics

The Misuse of Numbers: Audits, Quantification, and the Obfuscation of Politics

Chapter:
(p.115) 6 The Misuse of Numbers: Audits, Quantification, and the Obfuscation of Politics
Source:
Democratic Vistas
Author(s):

James C. Scott

Matthew A. Light

Publisher:
Yale University Press
DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300102567.003.0007

Mass democracies such as the United States that have embraced meritocratic criteria for elite selection and mass opportunity are tempted to develop impersonal, objective, mechanical measures of quality. The seductiveness of such measures is that they all turn measures of quality into measures of quantity, thereby allowing comparison across cases with a single metric. Whether they take the form of the Social Science Citation Index, the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), or cost-benefit analysis (CBA), they all follow the same logic. This chapter sketches that logic and argues that it is irremediably and fatally flawed.

Keywords:   democracy, meritocracy, quality, quantity

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