At his Salisbury Review blog, Dalrymple makes a very interesting point about a recent piece in the Guardian. When the head of a charity was confronted with data that predicted an increase in the number of men suffering from loneliness, she said the issue was an important one because “loneliness is actually a health risk”. One would think loneliness is undesirable in and of itself because of the decrease in the quality of human life that it represents. So why did she not say that? Dalrymple’s take:
…we suffer nowadays from an unease in talking about what cannot be easily measured, such as life expectancy. If I say something that would once have seemed perfectly obvious, such as that loneliness is undesirable, someone will demand the evidence. Life expectancy can be measured; and we are inclined to believe that what can easily be measured must be more important than what cannot. The result is a lot of pseudo-thought.
I too saw that and like Dr. D. I remember thinking, ‘How on earth do they quantify that?’