In 1977, two years after the last helicopter lifted off the rooftop of the U.S. embassy in Saigon, a retired Army general, Douglas Kinnard, published a landmark survey called The War Managers that revealed the quagmire of quantification. A mere 2 percent of America’s generals considered the body count a valid way to measure progress. “A fake—totally worthless,” wrote one general in his comments. “Often blatant lies,” wrote another. “They were grossly exaggerated by many units primarily because of the incredible interest shown by people like McNamara,” said a third.
From the article: “By 1970 the government was collecting census data by mail-in survey. The shift to a survey had dramatic effects on at least one census category: race.”
- First, it resulted in a dramatic increase in the Native American population. Between 1980 and 2000, the U.S. Native American population magically grew 110 percent. People who had identified as American Indian had apparently been somewhat invisible to the government.
- Second, to the chagrin of the Census Bureau, 80 percent of Puerto Ricans choose white (only 40 percent of them had been identified as white in the previous census). The government wanted to categorize Puerto Ricans as predominantly black, but the Puerto Rican population saw things differently.
New and improved categorization of abuse and dependence just joins them, with this amazing quote in the article, where two students were trying to figure out the difference between abuse and dependence.
“Isn’t ‘abuse’ like when you get a DUI?” said the medical student.
“Yeah,” said the psychiatry resident, “and ‘dependence’ is when you get withdrawal, right?”
“I think ‘abuse’ leads to ‘dependence,’” said the neurology resident.
“Or maybe ‘abuse’ is not as bad as ‘dependence’?”
“So what about our patient? He’s pretty hard-core.”
“I see him all the time in the emergency room. Totally intoxicated.”
“I’ve seen him drunk on the train.”
That sealed the deal.
“Dependence it is!” they all agreed.