What do people do when they count? What do numbers really mean? We all know that people can lie with statistics, but in this groundbreaking work, eminent political scientist Deborah Stone uncovers a much deeper problem. With help from Dr. Seuss and Cookie Monster, she explains why numbers can’t be objective: in order to count, one must first decide what counts. Every number is the ending to a story built on cultural assumptions, social conventions, and personal judgments.
And yet, in this age of big data and metric mania, numbers shape almost every facet of our lives: whether we get hired, fired, or promoted; whether we get into college or out of prison; how our opinions are gathered and portrayed to politicians; or how government designs health and safety regulations. In warm and playful prose, Counting explores what happens when we measure nebulous notions like merit, race, poverty, pain, or productivity.