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GHI Spring Lecture Series
April 21, 2016 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Science, Risk, and the Making of Statistical Individuals: How Corporations Numbered Americans’ Days and Valued Their Lives: Dan Bouk (Colgate University)
Hardly a day passes without the print and broadcast media presenting agonizing images of people in crisis situations. But where the general public sees danger and suffering, the government officials and aid workers responsible for responding to emergencies see numbers. Their knowledge of risk and need is largely shaped by statistics, algorithms, and databases. These forms of quantification are by no means neutral, however. What governments or international agencies decide to measure and the standards of measurement they adopt are decisive in determining who receives help and how much.
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*Part of the German Historical Institute’s Spring Lecture Series, Measuring Risk and Human Needs: New Perspectives From the History of Knowledge.