Humanist Discussion Group

Humanist Archives: March 4, 2021, 8:44 a.m. Humanist 34.257 - the psychology of quantification?

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 34, No. 257.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
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        Date: 2021-03-04 08:35:25+00:00
        From: Willard McCarty <>
        Subject: quantification

I'd be grateful for recommendations of studies on the psychology of
quantification, especially the motivations and the consequences for

Statements such as the following intrigue me:

> Economist-historian David Landes: “Modern man is reassured by
> numbers, which possess a quality of precision and certainty that mere
> words cannot give. Their mathematical character discourages
> criticism.” (150: 195f)
> Experimental psychologist Frederic Bartlett: “When a statement is
> ‘quantified’, it seems to carry, to the majority of persons, a
> superior certainty, and it passes without question.” (1940: 94)
> Sociologist John William Albig: “[T]here is a widespread faith that
> figures do not lie. Such simplifications are frequently fatal to
> impartial consideration but are usually useful in the dissemination
> of conclusions.” (1956: 330)

More recent studies?

Many thanks.


Willard McCarty,
Professor emeritus, King's College London;
Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews;  Humanist

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