Why bother measuring?

Why bother measuring?

Our political system is sorely lacking when it comes to accurate calculations. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis asked opposition leader Alexis Tsipras in Parliament on Wednesday if his party had conducted a cost analysis of its proposed measures. “Why would we bother with that?” was Tsipras’ uncomfortably honest response.

The attitude is widespread in Greek society. Virtually all social groups are allergic to the evaluation/assessment of their performance or work. People find comfort in the word “approximately.” If you state that something measures “approximately” 2 meters and that turns out to be 1.90 meters, you can rest assured that your credibility is safe. We are an “approximately” society because accurate calculations require method, rigor, verification and accountability.

These thoughts came to mind following the controversy at Sunday’s Greek Super League game between Atromitos and visiting AEK (the match was canceled after officials recorded the two goals as having different heights), which showed that we even have to measure the height of the crossbars before kickoff. I should add that we should also measure the length of the goals.

To make matters worse, there were significant discrepancies between the measurements of the referee and those of AEK officials. The referee said that one crossbar was 3.5 centimeters lower than the other, while the AEK officials said the difference was 4.7cm. In other words, the two sides could not agree on a specific number. But this is the very essence of measurement: Only the accurate figure is the right one. Is it so hard? Of course it is, because it does not suit us. Thus we invented pluralism in numerical method.

I remember Stefanos Manos, former finance minister and one-time leader of the short-lived Liberal party, who made accurate figures his mantra. He failed to attract a large audience because few people like accuracy and precision. It is not enough to measure things, you have to measure them properly.

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