Archive for the 'Measuring Controversial Issues' Category

Armstrong Affair shows USADA uninfluenced by measurement

The US Anti-Doping Agency says it has “overwhelming proof” seven-time Tour-de-France winner Lance Armstrong was cheating by doping himself with performance-enhancing substances. What is the evidence? Armstrong was tested for drugs perhaps hundreds of times during his cycling career.  Every single test pronounced him clean. That is strong evidence against doping. According to the USADA, [...]

Are Americans getting wealthier or poorer? It depends on how you measure “wealth.”

The standard measure of wealth is GDP per capita. The chart below shows that Americans have been getting continually wealthier for decades, with a few blips here and there (source of data). The measure of wealth—Gross Domestic Product, is based on the dollar value of economic transactions. Such a measure depends crucially on the definition [...]

Will anybody ever trust inflation measurements?

About 200 years ago Joseph Lowe said that “the interest of government, the greatest of all debtors, [is] to prevent the public from fixing its attention on the gradual depreciation of money.”  It seems like the Argentinian government is doing its best to prove Lowe right. Recent reports (see here and here) suggest the Argentinian [...]

Why measurements don’t always bring opposing views together

Can measurements resolve opposing views about the truth or falsehood of controversial claims?   That indeed is one of the most important purposes of measurement.  But it does not always work out that way. Take a chemical company at which plant managers and laboratory staff around the world were at loggerheads over measurements of product brightness. [...]

Good definitions needed for reliable measurements

The trustworthiness of any measurement depends crucially on the definition of the thing you are measuring.  This in turn depends on having adequate background information to define it. Even apparently simple things can be devilish to define: take on-time delivery. What is on-time? What counts as a delivery? Or try absenteeism. Is an employee ‘absent’ [...]