Cover: On the Limitations of Quantitative Analysis

On the Limitations of Quantitative Analysis

Published 1970

by E. S. Quade


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Today we often hear that to meet the many challenges to our society we need only turn to systems analysis, operations research, "aerospace technology" — in other words, to supposedly objective quantitative analysis. Few realize that quantitative analysis ultimately reduces to an orderly series of judgments in defining the problem, selecting hypotheses and approaches, making assumptions, determining the "facts," and assigning numerical values and relationships. Unfortunately, the cost/benefit criteria usually differ greatly from those used by political participants. Operational gaming with role-playing allows for the interplay of different viewpoints and for making decisions in context as the need arises. For situations still harder to model, expert judgment is commonly sought. Delphi questioning, featuring anonymity, iteration, controlled feedback, and statistical response, is increasingly used, but more experimental work is needed. Viewed as a method for investigating problems rather than solving them, analysis is nearly always useful.

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