CHAPTER 3 The Illusion of Intangibles: Why Immeasurables Aren’t

There are just three reasons why people think that something can’t be measured. Each of these three reasons is actually based on misconceptions about different aspects of measurement. I will call them concept, object, and method.

  1. Concept of measurement. The definition of measurement itself is widely misunderstood. If one understands what “measurement” actually means, a lot more things become measurable.
  2. Object of measurement. The thing being measured is not well defined. Sloppy and ambiguous language gets in the way of measurement.
  3. Methods of measurement. Many procedures of empirical observation are not well known. If people were familiar with some of these basic methods, it would become apparent that many things thought to be immeasurable are not only measurable but may already have been measured.

A good way to remember these three common misconceptions is by using a mnemonic like “howtomeasureanything.com,” where the c, o, and m in “.com” stand for concept, object, and method. Once we learn that these three objections are misunderstandings of one sort or another, it becomes apparent that everything really is measurable.

In addition to these reasons why something can’t be measured, there are also three common reasons why something shouldn’t be measured. The reasons often given for this are:

  1. The economic objection to measurement (i.e., any measurement would be too expensive).
  2. The general objection to the usefulness ...

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