Essay Contest #5

Am I a number?

So many academic disciplines use mathematical and statistical approaches to understand human behavior. Often, these are the regions of the academy called upon to influence public policy, and to help people more generally to make sense of their lives. What do we gain from looking at the human being in this way, and what is lost? Why are we tempted to think of ourselves and each other as numbers in the first place? Have we simply placed our fate in the hands of those who see us as numbers, or does it offer a perspective that we can take on ourselves that counterbalances the limitations of our own idiosyncratic perspectives? Where is probabilistic and statistical thinking apt, and where does it distort? We await your 800 word reflections on these questions and similar issues, such as:

  • The quantifiable value of human life
  • The role of accountability through measurement in how we live together
  • Growing up a number
  • Desire satisfaction and its limits
  • Fairness, justice, and quantifiable value

Send your essays, letters, cartoons, fiction, poetry, memoirs, policy memos, screenplays of 800 words or fewer to by next Wednesday, May 6, at 3 pm CST. 

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