- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: W W Norton; Reprint edition (June 27 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780393328707
- ISBN-13: 978-0393328707
- ASIN: 0393328708
- Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 1.5 x 20.8 cm
- Shipping Weight: 181 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,283,186 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Triumph Of Numbers Paperback – Jun 27 2006
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Brief, lively, and highly entertaining.--William Grimes
This book will inform and enlighten you. . . . [Cohen] paints a vivid picture of the rise of statistics.--Tom Korner
About the Author
I. Bernard Cohen (1914--2003) was Victor S. Thomas Professor, Emeritus, of the History of Science at Harvard University, where he taught from 1942 to 1984. He was the first American to receive the degree of Ph.D. in the History of Science. He was the author of many books, including Science and the Founding Fathers: Science in the Political Thought of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and James Madison; The Science of Benjamin Franklin; Revolution in Science; The Newtonian Revolution; The Birth of a New Physics; and, with Anne Whitman, Isaac Newtonís Principia: A New Translation of Newtonís Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy. He edited several series of works, including Harvard Monographs in the History of Science, Three Centuries of Science in America, and the ongoing Studies & Texts in the History of Computing. He was a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Royal Astronomical Society, the British Academy, and the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei.
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Shows the huge benefit to society when statistics are used to solve problems; even though the causes are unknown. Smallpox and sanitation are two good examples.
1830's Quetelet, a Dutch statistician, wrote on his analysis of society. He found amazing regularity. He wrote 1842 , "society prepares the crime and the guilty person is only the instrument by which it is executed". He wrote a book entitled "Social Physics."
This prepared the way for the debate on free will.
Page 144, "Comte, a French intellectual, believed in pyramid of knowledge, with mathematics is the base, physics built on mathematics, then chemistry, then biology, and finally the crown of knowledge, sociology"
Cohen finishes with nightingale and her use and view of number. Referring to Quetelet, "To Florence Nightingale his work represented the beginning of the understanding of the relationship of God to man. She saw the book is a religious work - "revelation of the will of God" " page 171.
"More importance was nightingale's belief that statistics revealed the relationship of God to man, and the character of God, if not his essence. . . The laws of God, those of the physical world and those governing man, could be found out by experience or by research, including statistical research. She believed that it was the duty of mankind to do so, so that man could act in accordance with the divine plan and help to bring mankind to perfection." Page 173
Appears to be a good approximation of many people today. Nightingale was converted to worship number even though a devout believer. Not that unusual. Interesting explanation of how this has happened.
See the book 'the end of Poverty' by Jeffery Sachs and then 'the Idealist: the quest to end Poverty' by Nina Munk.
Secular salvation does not have evidence to support its claims. Comte, St Simon, Napoleon, Robespierre, Marx, Mussolini, Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Robert Owen have all failed in their goal of using science to bring happiness.
I teach a high school algebra and statistics class, and I have my students do biographies of mathematicians. People like John Graunt, Adolphe Quetelet, and Florence Nightengale, who may get brief mentions in other books, find the spotlight on them and their lives' work in this book. Because of this project, I have become familiar with the body of mathematical historical and biographical literature, and I have not come across anything that remotely shares the focus of TRIUMPH OF NUMBERS.
As we move to the increasingly data-driven society outlined in Ian Ayres' SUPERCRUNCHERS. I. B. Cohen has written an important book by outlining of the development of data analysis.