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Does Measurement Measure Up?

, 248 pages

1 halftone, 8 line drawings

March 2006
List price:$34.00
Sale price:$12.00
You save:$22.00



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Does Measurement Measure Up?

How Numbers Reveal and Conceal the Truth

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.

John M. Henshaw is a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Tulsa.

"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."

"Best of 2006."

"It is easy to read, and Henshaw has a pleasant style of throwing himself into the action. "

"Sometimes a number is helpful, but at other times misleading, leading to discussions of when we should not be using numbers to make expensive decisions."

"I enjoyed this book very much. The author's goal is to highlight the use (and misuse) of measurement in everyday life, a question I have pondered myself on many occasions. Indeed, many of his points were personally engaging to me."

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