IDSC is pleased to announce the second distinguished lecture in the Data Citizens series, scholar and author Deborah Stone, PhD. Professor Emerita at Brandeis University, Dr. Stone is a political scientist whose work spans public policy, sociology, philosophy, and law. Dr. Stone has taught at M.I.T., Duke, Yale, and Aarhus University in Denmark, in addition to Brandeis. Her widely acclaimed textbook, Policy Paradox: The Art of Political Decision Making, explores the squishy but often unacknowledged values, stories, and psychology that drive policymaking and analysis. She has written extensively on health policy, disability, caregiving, and altruism—or lack of it—in politics. Dr. Stone will talk about her new book, Counting: How We Use Numbers to Decide What Matters.
Register Now | Thursday 12/10/2020 4:00-5:30 PM via Zoom
TALK Title: “There’s No Such Thing as a Raw Number”
The word “data” has come to be synonymous with numbers. When policymakers demand evidence, they mean numbers. Numbers have become our truth meters because most people think they’re more objective than words and stories. But if we look closely at where numbers come from, even kindergarten-level counting requires humans to make judgments about what counts as the thing they’re counting. Move on to more complicated and contentious concepts such as unemployment, gender violence, crime risk, or Covid deaths, and the possibilities for subjectivity and power plays mushroom. Counting and measurement are tremendously useful tools, but we should be wary of relying of them to resolve political conflicts and moral dilemmas.