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Does Measurement Measure Up?

How Numbers Reveal and Conceal the Truth

John M. Henshaw

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A critical perspective of how measurements have come to affect our lives—from reasonable doubt to No Child Left Behind.

There was once a time when we could not measure sound, color, blood pressure, or even time. We now find ourselves in the throes of a measurement revolution, from the laboratory to the sports arena, from the classroom to the courtroom, from a strand of DNA to the far reaches of outer space. Measurement controls our lives at work, at school, at home, and even at play. But does all this measurement really measure up? Here, John Henshaw examines the ways in which measurement makes…

A critical perspective of how measurements have come to affect our lives—from reasonable doubt to No Child Left Behind.

There was once a time when we could not measure sound, color, blood pressure, or even time. We now find ourselves in the throes of a measurement revolution, from the laboratory to the sports arena, from the classroom to the courtroom, from a strand of DNA to the far reaches of outer space. Measurement controls our lives at work, at school, at home, and even at play. But does all this measurement really measure up? Here, John Henshaw examines the ways in which measurement makes sense or creates nonsense.

Henshaw tells the controversial story of intelligence measurement from Plato to Binet to the early days of the SAT to today's super-quantified world of No Child Left Behind. He clears away the fog on issues of measurement in the environment, such as global warming, hurricanes, and tsunamis, and in the world of computers, from digital photos to MRI to the ballot systems used in Florida during the 2000 presidential election. From cycling and car racing to baseball, tennis, and track-and-field, he chronicles the ever-growing role of measurement in sports, raising important questions about performance and the folly of comparing today's athletes to yesterday's records.

We can't quite measure everything, at least not yet. What could be more difficult to quantify than reasonable doubt? However, even our justice system is yielding to the measurement revolution with new forensic technologies such as DNA fingerprinting.

As we evolve from unquantified ignorance to an imperfect but everpresent state of measured awareness, Henshaw gives us a critical perspective from which we can "measure up" the measurements that have come to affect our lives so greatly.

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Does Measurement Measure Up?

John M. Henshaw

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Reviews

Reviews

Academic but accessible to the general reader.

Well written, entertaining, and informative.

Henshaw has a remarkable ability to explain complex mathematics in a manner accessible to general readers.

Clear and well written.

A common thread throughout is the interrelationship of knowledge and measurement, an interrelationship that can both mislead and educate. Along the way, Henshaw does a great job of tossing in historical anecdotes, raising philosophical concerns, identifying social issues, and providing interesting factoids.The book is fun to read.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
248
ISBN
9780801883750
Illustration Description
1 halftone, 8 line drawings
Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
1. Of Love and Luminescene: What, Why, and How Things Get Measured
2. Doing the Math: Scales, Standards, and Some Beautiful Measurements
3. The Ratings Game: ''Overall''

Preface
Acknowledgments
1. Of Love and Luminescene: What, Why, and How Things Get Measured
2. Doing the Math: Scales, Standards, and Some Beautiful Measurements
3. The Ratings Game: ''Overall'' Measurements and Rankings
4. Measurement in Business: What Gets Measured Gets Done
5. Games of Inches: Sports and Measurement
6. Measuring the Mind: Intelligence, Biology, and Education
7. Man: The Measure of All Things
8. It's Not Just the Heat, it's the Humidity: Global Warming and Environmental Measurement
9. Garbage In, Garbage Out: The Computer and Measurement
10. How Funny Is That? Knowledge Without Measurement?
11. Faith, Hope, and Love: The Future of Measuremen—and of Knowledget
References
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

John M. Henshaw

John M. Henshaw is the department chair and Harry H. Rogers Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Tulsa. He is the author of An Equation for Every Occasion: Fifty-Two Formulas and Why They Matter and A Tour of the Senses: How Your Brain Interprets the World.