Mattering and measurement

I have found this quote by William Edwards Deming to be widely shared by “improvement scientists” involved in healthcare:

without data


My concerns about this aphorism are on a number of levels:

  • Implicitly it reduces subjective experience and thus the person.
  • Implicitly it is stating only that which is measurable is important.
  • Science is based on method and observation; this is then recorded in words (‘labels’ if you like) and this is then converted into numbers (data). At each stage there is a representational loss of actual experience.
  • It lacks philosophical understandings of reality. What I mean is that it is impossible for numbers to fully represent reality.
  • Healthcare is not the same as engineering [the original context of this quote]
  • In reality there is no clear divide between objectivity and subjectivity. Science strives to be objective but cannot do this simply by ignoring the subjective.



3 Replies to “Mattering and measurement”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s