Is the Game Worth
|•||People imbue them with an objectivity they don't deserve.|
|•||They can target the wrong people.|
|•||They may induce institutions to compete along the wrong dimensions.|
|•||They create an incentive to cheat.|
The first two problems are the natural consequences of distillation. Ranking requires a trade-off between precision and accessibility, and there are costs associated with this trade-off no matter what choice you make. The second two issues are what you might call “happiness problems”; they occur if the Index starts to get traction, but they can undermine its success in the long term. Below, I discuss each in turn and offer my own take on how the costs and benefits play out.
Rankings simplify. It is an inevitable consequence of trying “to provide one answer to a question when that answer depends on several bits of data,” in the words of Oxford's Stein Ringen.1 Distilling information can serve
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Publication information: Book title: The Democracy Index: Why Our Election System Is Failing and How to Fix It. Contributors: Heather K. Gerken - Author. Publisher: Princeton University Press. Place of publication: Princeton, NJ. Publication year: 2009. Page number: 93.
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