The title of Counting contains some revealing wordplay: To count is to tally things up but, also, to count is to matter.
In this book, political scientist Deborah Stone explores the ways in which these two meanings of “count” are intertwined in society.
“She argues that our judgments are embedded in the way we count because of the decisions we make about what matters, and that we then use this to make concrete judgments that we claim are based on math when really they’re a result of our preconceived notions,” said Eugenia Cheng in a review for The New York Times.
“It is a curious experience to agree with the conclusion of a book but not its argument. Stone’s broad message is that we shouldn’t regard numbers as reflecting absolute truths about the world without first considering the methods used to produce those numbers,” said the review.
“We shouldn’t overstate the power of math and science, but we shouldn’t understate it either,” it added.
Eugenia Cheng writes the Everyday Math column for The Wall Street Journal.