Topic: Non-Measurement of Values

Friday 9th April 2021

Present: AB (host), NB, CA, NO, TB, SJ

Transcribed by AB 16 April 2021; mostly almost exactly the words spoken. Times in recording in [sqaure brackets] and time on Amiga clock during the discussion. Comments and reflections added. [zxxx] identification numbers added.


------- Excursus: HRH Duke of Edinburgh [z501]

# AB: HRH Duke of Edinburgh, died today.
# AB: Recounted a meeting with him, Christian Attitude to Nature. See account. # TB: meeting with him. # NO: Appreciate AB sharing that. Don't hear much about DoE. # AB: Teresa May reported that DoE knows a lot about climate change. He wanted action.
# NO: Fascinating. Queen Victoria; Prince Albert, Crystal Palance exhibition.

------- Start of Discussion

# CA: opened in prayer. (Actually before the Excursus(

# AB: Topic: What kind of values cannot be measured and why they cannot be measured. Incl. Christian values.
Suggestion: We have had several sessions on measurement, so now discuss non-measurement, then put the two together. [z520]

--- Measuring and Assessing [z502]

# NB: Does "measure" imply quantitative measure? Measure is subset of "assess" which does not require quantitative. [z521]

# For example, comparing music e.g. Mozart and Brahms, we are assessing, in that we can [assess] one better than other, but cannot assign quantitative values to that. Putting numbers does not make sense. *** [z522]
# Assessing is in the analytical mode. My example of the symphony is in the aesthetic mode. Values would be juridical, ethical and perhaps pistic mode.
# So the issue is twofold. Are we uncomfortable with assessing things, i.e. making judgements about them, or is our discomfort with numerical assessment? [z523]

See also: --- Two versions of Quantitative Functioning and --- Seeing Measuring and Assessing As Aspectual Functioning

--- Bring in Spatial Aspect [z503]

# NO: I think there is two parts to that. Even if you assume you had a perfect measurement, you would still have the spirit and soul to act on it. So there is two parts to this. [z524]
# I think we can construct some measurements, though it's hard to quantify the qualities, if we think about it in a geometric sense. [z525]
# Think about geometrically. As fulcrum and table [NO showed his hand horizontal and then acting like a seesaw]. Achieve balance. A combination of measurements. If we achieve this balance we can say its a proper value. [z526]

[AB: Note: this is simultaneity, which is made meaningful by spatial aspect.

# AB summarised the above, then asked NO to say a bit more.
# NO: You can reduce almost anything to different sets of numbers, but I have a variety of things I think about in terms of geometric levers, fulcrums, etc. There's a different reason, but the point is: Sometimes you need not any numbers but a relationship of numbers. And that will give you a better picture.
# Value is unfortunately a social relation construct - at least the values we talk about - because what is valuable to one person is not necessarily to another person. [z527] See also --- Means Different Things to Different People
# So if you want to have a measurement of values, you have to find the equanimity, the plane, where people can say yes it's a relationship and the relationship is net balanced for me, net positive. [z528]

--- Seeing Measuring and Assessing As Aspectual Functioning [z504]

# SJ: In terms of Dooyeweerd's aspects, in both measuring using numbers and in assessing, in each situation, scenario, we are, from one aspect, reaching out to other aspects. [z529]
# e.g. if by "measure" we mean assessing something in numerical terms, and we can reach out from the quantitative aspect to other aspects.
# If so, then there shouldn't be any be any problem to put numerical value on e.g. pistic aspect of someone's faith.
# Especially when we want to measure progress. [z530]
# (going back to why human beings started to measure in a numerical way in the first place.)
# e.g. In Digital marketing, we simplify and say "If you don't measure you cannot manage" [z531] and Thomas Kuhn's perspective in philosophy of science, that was a way to progress knowledge. [z532]

[AB: Discuss: But when is that true, and when not? Sometimes we manage by knowledge of laws by which Creation works well.

# If by assessing we mean a judgement, we are functioning in the analytical aspect and again we can reach out to a number of other aspects. [z533]
# So maybe we should not put ourselves in either-or situations. [z534]

# NO: Re measuring values. If we do do something like that, we must make sure it's longitudincal. When I see a measure it's not for today. I need to see longitudicnally progressed, going up and down. [z535]
# Best thing for this is indices.
# NB: kinematic aspect: how it is changing.
# NO: We get deceived often when we look at one number.
# e.g. in medicine most of our studies are longitudinal we are trying to look over time, how things change. Looking at a value today does not tell me where it was yesterday or will go in the future. So we should think about measurements on a kinetic or longitidunal.

--- Reductionism [z505]

# NB: SJ and NO: You said "why cannot we talk in terms of pistic in terms of quantitative?" The word that jumps out to me is "reduce". [z536]
The quantitative aspect always pertains, and it pertains when we talk about values too.
# There is a temptation (Western?) to reduce things. If we measure pistic numerically and then decide that it is only the number that matters. [z537] See --- On Idolising Measurements, On 'Teaching to the Test'
# That temptation is why I am reluctant to measure it in the first place.
# SJ: Agreed. If we just use quantitative as the only way, then we are reducing. e.g. in Technology Acceptance Model, when systems usage is measured only through numbers, that is reductionism.
# But nothing wrong of quantitative along with [reaching out to] other aspects. e.g. explain someone's faith, then we are not reducing; we are trying not to reduce. We can have quantitative but we shouldn't just stay with quantitative.

--- Benefits of quantitative measurement [z506]

# AB: So what would be the beneift/value of the quantitative; what would it give us, rather than, say, qualitative? [z538]
# AB: SJ says there is nothing wrong with quantitative if it measures other aspectsl. But it sparked in my mind the idea that measuring quantitatively gives us something, has a benefit.
# e.g. quantitative gives us an overview, [z539] but I wanted to see what SJ or anyone else thought. [z540]
e.g. if we measured the pistic aspect, or the amount of love, or of grace or of peace - what benefit does that give us?
# NB: Quantitative gives us analytical ease [z541]
# SJ: Presentation [z542] Visualisation [z543] Benchmark [z544] Decisions made based on only quantitative aspect [z545]
# SJ: But I agree with NB that it cannot be the only thing we look at.
# CA: I think sometimes we look at it in terms of an Overview. in terms of what is important. There are many things important. What the quantitative does is tell us "these are some of the parts that are important."
# NO: it helps prioritize.
# CA: Yes. Then you can go deeper and investigate further in those areas. [z546]

# NO: Some people have tried to put together a dashboard, e.g. on humanity. Dunno whether Xn values. But environmental dashboard. # AB: ecological footprint. [z547]

# NB: In addition to GNP (Gross National Product) some have tried to track Gross National Happiness. In order to try to get at what matters.
# I think our discussion today is about: If the problem with measurement is about measuring what truly matters, do we fix it by not measuring or by having even better measurements? Not sure I know the answer. [z548]

[AB: this discussed in topics.html. Some are leery of merely looking for better measurements. But this whole topic today is about NB's question: when or under what circumstances is it better to not measure rather than to seek better measurements? ]

# NO: as humans we are constructed to discriminate, I think we'll gravitate to trying to provide better numbers. - though that may not be the optimal solution.

# NO: Name me one that we have not tried to quantitize.
# AB: beauty?
# CA: value of friendship. [z549] how can you measure that. We cannot do this accurately. But at least we can give the strength [of friendship] 1 to 10. So it's very arbitrary, but at least there is some kind of measure.
# NO: As soon as you said that I thought of Facebook, that has built a whole economic model on measures frienships - but by the way has got some very bad characteristics to it. But they are measuring friendships.
# NO: But unfortunately they're really not tying?====telling? any values, that its an economically-driven thing, based on the number of Likes.
# TB: Or the comments they get
# CA: You can say how popular you are, based on how many friends you have and things like that, but when you talk about the value of friendship, that you have with someone who is valuable to you, how do you measure that?
# TB: I was thinking, Yes: probably the way it might be done is some kind of Belbin Test, that tells us where our strengths are, in the different items of teamwork that Belbin has defined. If you're trying to measure the strength of a friendship, it would be done using a questionnaire, deliberately finding out where there's an emphasis or not. But it wouldn't put a number against it. If are going to quantify something (if you can call it quantificaton) it would I supplose Falling into a band, as to the nature of that relationship. [z550] # AB: is strength of friendship same as friendship itself.

[AB: Clarify: I think CA is differentiating two things there about 'value of friendship': (a) strength of friendship, which can be quantitative; (b) the good or value or benefit that friendship brings ] [z551]


--- On Measuring Christian values [z507]

# SJ: Xn values - If we are called to develop a compassionate mind, love one another, or toward the rest of Creation, how do we know whether we are going forward or backward in that? [z552] ***
# TB: Interesting one: AB interacting point about interacting with HRH Duke of Edinburgh about the Holy Spirit element of the environment. That resonated with another thought I had: wherever I have seen a discussion about the environment, it is not only about respecting Creation, but "Love thy neighbour" and that encompasses that element [of environment].

[AB: For what TB is referring to, see Even the Holy Spirit is Green!.

# And also, we could say that if we are enacting that "love thy neighbour" in caring for the environment, can we quantify what we are doing forward in that?
[Amiga clock: 16.39]
# AB asked for clarification.
# TB: How one cares for the environment, in terms of [e.g.] do they chuck rubbish out, do they not recycle that well? [AB: those are qualitative qns - but I suppose they can be quantitative, "How much ...?"] Impact the environment, impact their neighour, do they pollute? Measuring that whether we are going forward, Advancing the environmental climate. [z553]

# AB: Last week we discussed how to measure how we are doing with the idea of reflective constructs. We started thinking about one of the Christian values, how to measure it, but we didn't get very far.

--- When and Why Not to Measure [z508]

# AB: When it is appropriate not to measure. Why might we not want to measure them. Quantitatively but also qualitatively. [z554]
# AB: NB said "Better" as non-quantitative, or non-numerical at least. Let's idea of "better" as non-quantitative [non-numerical].
# SJ: 'better' could be: opens up in terms of number of aspects.
# [re music; see above] economically better e.g. it wasn't too long, in terms of beats [bits?] the musician follows; better could be found in number of different aspects.
# AB: Interesting

[AB: Two different possible quantitative in aspects: (a) number of aspects in which better; (b) better in one aspect, in sense of more in line with laws of an aspect [z555] ***]

# NB: In case of music, different people come to different conclusions on which piece is better. THAT IS WHY numerical measurement doesn't make sense. Because a numerical measurement is something that objective would agree on but when we are talking about a piece of music, which is the superior one, we expect people would not agree on that and we're OK with that. [z556] ***
# AB: Interesting: People come to different conclusion, and that is why quantitative is no use here.

[AB: Interesting: Is that because aesthetic aspect is post-social? If so, does that imply that post-social things cannot be measured objectively and hence it is not appropriate to measure them numerically? note: assuming numerical implies objective. ] [z557]

[AB: Question: Does that apply to quantitative as more-and-less as well as to assigning numbers? [z558] ]

# NO: not sure I agree. I'm probably treading on dangerous ground, because how do you measure the human heart, but the Greeks have 6 words for love, but i could construct an index or bubble chart [for love] that could measure your condition on all 6 of those words.
# NB: You could approximate, but that would be a reduction to have a six-part index of my love. Something about my love would be captured by that; it wouldn't be divorced from the reality, but also it would be missing something important. Just as each aspect introduces something new, no one aspect can capture the whole picture, so an index of my love would capture something real, not made up, but it would be partial. [z559]
# NO: But if we're trying to bring something to people's attention that they can grab a hold of, that we can engender their better behavior, we got to give a stick to hold onto. Not a perfection, it's a tool.
# NB: But when when does the benefit of using that tool outweigh the detriment of using that tool?
# e.g. environmental issues, tonnes of CO2 emitted is a nice easy measure to talk about. (# NO: But it's not accurate, not accurate; Methane is 120 worse than CO2. [AB: I felt that NO was triggered; 'CO2' is usually used as a surrogate for greenhouse gases.]) NB: The inevitable innaccuracy of any measurement needs to be recognised but we can still profitably use that measurement. When you talk about my love for my wife and kids, the inaccuracy of any measurement starts to feel like an assault on the love itself.
# NO: I don't disagree with you. It's a difficult quest: what is measurable and what is not.
# NB: what is profitably measurable?
# NO: that we can tell pretty quickly. Marianna Mazzacoto 'The Value of Everything'
# NB: I was not suggesting measuring profitability; I was suggesting measuring things profitably. Only use measurements when the use of measurement is worthwhile by some metric other than the measurement itself. [z560]

--- THought experiment: Suppose No Quantitative Aspect [z509]

# SJ: Re. our love for our loved ones - parents, wife, kids. If on the spot now I want to judge, I say "no you cannot put number on my love for my loved ones, this moment, it's downplaying it". But how would I know?
# Imagine we would have no numbers, no quantitative aspect, in the universe. How would I know from today to tomorrow, to next year and some time, that I'm a better lover and giver in this society, for my family - how can I explain that, how can I have an understanding of my progress? The assumption is that there is no quantitative aspect in the universe. [z561] ***
# AB: That's a useful exercise
# SJ: I know I love my wife a lot; you cannot put numbers on that. I get offended to be honest - I agree with Nick. But as a CHristian, I am called to be like Jesus, eventually, work toward that direcion, focus my mind on him, get close to him, become more like him. How can I understand my progress towards that goal, that direction, by next year this time. So that's a question for everyone.
# AB: My immediate reaction is, in terms of progress to being more like Jesus, the "more" suggests quantitative.
# But, in a way, does it matter? Why am I to judge? Surely Father God is the one to judge, and He can operate, He can put things in my life that challenge me that reveal my lack of love, lets say, in some areas, in some way [lack of Christlikeness], and that leads me to repent. [z562]
# I've found one or two instances of that in my life and the lives of others, where God puts us into a situation that reveals our lack of something, so that we repent, whether or not we measure it. And it's kind of almost His prerogative to 'measure' us. So does it matter whether we need to measure?
# I'm, not saying it doesn't matter, but - there's a point.

[AB: I think he's saying that the important thing is to actually progress rather than measure progress - and in this particular example of progress in Christlikeness, God acts in our lives to encourage or make us progress (in ways appropriate for that aspect of our lives, namely repentance to revealed sin or lack).] [z562]

# SJ: If that is the case we are along the path of progress. Is that the case? AB: yes.
# NO: So if we're going to turn this over to administrators, it's going to have to be measured.
# NB: Human psychology seems to have something attracted to measuring, to put a number to our performance. [z563]
# I don't know whether that's sinful or part of God's good creation. # NO: That's a very interesting thought. [z564] ***
# NO: What came to my mind, when AB said about God putting things in our path to bring us back to Christ - I want to reflect on that and take that away.
# NO: What came to my mind is the parable of lazarus and rich man. The rich man was told, "Lazarus was outside your door everyday, and you ignored him." So in that sense, God wants us to look on and realise. So you could say that every day he walked over that poor man he was not paying attention to some measurement that was important. [AB: A kind of measuring of love or lack of it: the number of times he ignored Lazarus.] [z565]
# SJ: Another question. Book of Luke: There is a woman who touched Jesus' clothes and she gets healed. Jesus turned and said to crowd, "This is real faith, because she didn't really say 'Lord help me' she just touched my clothes." Is Jesus having any kind of scale for measuring faith at that moment? [z566] ***

--- Two versions of Quantitative Functioning [z510]

# NB: the idea of more and less is there, but the idea of 6.8 v 6.3 is ridiculous
# SJ: So the quantitative aspect of more-and-less is still there, but it's a matter of presentation? Then using numbers like 6.8 6.9 is a matter of presentation.
# NO: Measurement, in parables: Christ was often talking about measurement, especially about money. He said "narrow is the path to the kingdom; wide is the path to hell." which is very much measuring, right? Just toying with NB's idea, whether measuring is a sin or not. Certainly it would have to be a part of our fallen nature - maybe part of our fallen nature is that we cannot get away from the damn measurements!
# SJ: Could we say. For example, in data analytics, when we are trying to define a company's persona, we say companies that have no anaytics persona, companies that are very data driven companies, they have full analytics, and then we have pseudo analytics, like when we talk about pseudo science. Could we say that the kind of measurement that Jesus uses In those parables is a kind of pseudo measurement? It's not really like 6.8 for this woman, 4.2 for John, etc. Could we say it [what Jesus was meaning] was a kind of pseudo measuring? [z567]

[AB: Good point, alluded to above: Two version of quantitative aspect? (a) The quantitative aspect as such is the idea of more-and-less, better-or-worse without numbers, (b) using numbers to state the measure. The latter has precision and some kind of objectivity. We could call that the numeric rather than quantitative. ] [z568]


--- Measuring Relationships [z511]

# NO: I think so. But it also goes back to relationship. If we're going to measure values, it's going to have to be relationship measurement, bot just 6.8. Have to show relationships, e.g. by indexes, quadrant charts. Whether it can do that or not.
[AB: see more below on relationships ]

# SJ: Interesting. When there is number, 6, 4, etc. it is functioning in quantitative aspect. More or less, is that functioning in quantitative aspect? Pseudo measuring, what aspect is that? [AB: Pseudo measuring seems now to be like the quantitative aspect without the precision of numbers; so "pseudo" is a misleading word because of its negative connotations. ]

--- Analytical aspect of measuring? [z512]

# AB: Is it analytical aspect? It's a bit like, it links to the idea of better. You cannot say "more" or "less" but you can say "better". [z569]
# NB: "Better" and "worse" are in some ways "more good" and "less good"?
# AB: But that's reducing them? You cannot say of the two bits of music "one is more good" but you can say "Music X is better than music Y". That is a different meaning, it reduces it a bit.
# NO: This question: Maybe we cannot measure qualitative things in the whole. But suppose we just wanted to measure - to narrow the scope, [z570]
# e.g. just wanted to measure ethical behaviour, I could measure the - you know, Ciceros cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance, which if a good person demonstrates these then they are adding to society. So we could measure these things. I could measure how prudent you are, if you're just, if you're temperant, etc. So could we not put faith in like that, the cardinal virtues of "faith, hope, charity", measuring like that - just narrow the scope? [z571]
[AB: c.f. earlier about measuring individual xn values]

# AB: In what way do you mean "narrow" the scope?
# NO: e.g. Let say we don't measure all the xn values, we just want to measure the moral values. e.g. instead of measuring love comprehensively, why not measure e.g. love for the community. Period. Just the community. Can we demonstrate that?

[AB: Summary with Reflective Comments

Those would seem to summarise the above? ]


# AB: Evangelical Alliance article on xn values. He says,

"What are the 'core values' for our society? This is a profoundly important question. So big, in fact, that there are any number of ways of avoiding it. Sometimes those who have real concerns for the way a society operates find it easier to leave this question aside and to focus intensively on single issues. This can be very important and even helpful but ultimately every decision to act in a particular way needs to be grounded in some overall vision for society. "

# AB: Is what you are suggesting, NO, like that, going to single issues?
# NO: Maybe a couple of aspects.
# NO: We want to measure our relationship to our community and fellow men, period.

[AB: Reflection: Maybe it is bringing in of relationships that narrows down to single aspects, since all relationships presuppose a single aspect. They are relationships only insofar as they are meaningful in any given aspect, e.g. quantitative relationships, spatial relationships, social relationships, etc. [z572] ]

--- Measuring Single Aspects in Context of Multiple Aspects [z513]

# NB: Measurements make more sense when about single issues. They are more useful and fruitful when they can encompass the whole of everything. [z573]
[Amiga time: 17.02]
# NB: My concern is that measurements invite reduction towards single issues because they are easier to measure. They don't force us to concentrate only on single issues, but [example] if I tell you my height and my weight, you immediately are thinking about primarily about my body shape and not my love for my kids. [z574]
# I cannot come up with a measurement that doesn't yank our attention in the direction of that measurement. [z575]

[AB: Is that another problem with measuring ]

# And so the use of - the context in which we use - those measurements become inevitably narrowed in a way we don't want them to. [z576] ***
# AB: Are you saying that focusing on measuring one thing focuses focuses our minds on one aspect at expense of another?
# NB: Yes. I'm not saying that's intrinsically a bad thing; sometimes our attention needs to be focused on that one aspect but when it's time to act, we need to make sure our attention is free to float to all of the aspects and not just the one that we happen to be focusing on.

[AB: Dooyeweerd: Focusing on one aspect that we measure is our valid functioning in the analytical aspect; Acting in the world inherently involves all aspects.][z577]

# NO: But there are measurement techniques [z578] for this. For example, an index that measures output over input, you can enhance the index by improving the output or you can do so by reducing the input. So you're looking at a couple of aspects, create a bubble chart with x,y, put it on a 4 quadrant basis, I can look at 3 variables in 4 quadrants. We can have some tools for these things that don't reduce, themselves, to a single number.
# I agree we have an abusive tendency for that.
# NB: Re. Responsibility. Then my question becomes, When is it incumbent upon the person developing, and doing the measuring, to shape the way that measure gets used by real people making real decisions? That if I report on, e.g. Bhutan's Gross National Happiness (of course that's reductionistic), is it the responsibility of the person who I'm telling that to, to responsibly use that measurement, or do I also have responsibility to shape the way I talk about it?

--- Means Different Things to Different People [z514]

# CA: When we talk about measurement, do all of us think alike.
# e.g. what does kindness mean to xns?
# Some xns think that kindness is only for people, some think it goes also to environment and to animals. Some think animals are allowed to be eaten, so kindness is not for them. Even though we are doing the same course, looking at all the same Biblical passages, that is talking about how God loves animals, and we have to deal with them and look after them.

[AB: c.f. NO's suggestion of narrowing down to love for the community.]

# But the outcome of it is different for different people. Some people say we should look after them, so we should restrain from eating meat, some not restrain from eating meat but will think about how are they grown, are they their living in good conditions, are they slaughtered properly.
# So, different people think in different ways, though we are all called Christians even in the same church.
# So, What is kindness? [AB: or any other given value?]
# NB: the disucssion about measuring kindness - even though we know it is destined to ultimately fail in capturing what kindness is, - it helps brings out the conversation that helps the church know what they mean when they use the word. If you talk to someone who thinks of kindness purely in human terms, and tell them about your Kindness Index and how it takes into account animals, the coversation brings that to the fore, so now we can see that there's this disagreement. Even though our Kindness Index will only ever partially capture what it is we're trying to become when we wish to be be kind. [z579] [stimulative role of index?]
# NB: (I still don't know that I think a Kindness Index is a good idea, though.)

# AB: Sounds like: we could measure, but it's what we do with the measure that's the issue. Whether or not we measure, there's a responsibility re what we do with the measurement? Do we hide behind the measurement to justify our own whatever, or do we let it lead us into wisdom? [z580]

--- On Idolising Measurements, On 'Teaching to the Test' [z515]

# NB: The temptation we will inevitably face is the same temptation we have in the teaching profession, of teaching to the test. The test is meant to measure my students' expertise, I want my students to have expertise, but if all I do is teach them how to do well on a test, then I miss something.
# So [in similar way], yes, better measurements can help make that a better situation, but what we do with it needs to always steadfastly resist the temptation of only improving the measurement and not improving the thing the measurement is trying to measure. [z581] ***

# AB: [AB: This is confused; maybe skip it?] Yes. But if we look at it in the broader sense, if someone teaches to the test, then it'll get people passing the test but it won't instil in them something that will be good later on, it'll instil in them a love for cheating or cutting corners or whatever, which in the long term reduces the shalom. And so if our concern is, what about those who idolise measurement or teach to the test or something, it may be in the long term it 'doesn't matter'. [AB: I think AB was trying to say that such cutting corners is usually ultimately self-defeating in the long run and bigger picture.]
# What do I mean? No, it's not that it doesn't matter, it's that those people - not quite sure what I mean. # NB: An attitude rather than an action? [z582]
# AB: Building up an attitude is what contributes to shalom. OK, in some ways it does matter, but in some ways we don't have to over-worry about trying to prevent it. Yeah, I said, it's what we do with the measure, and you came back and said "Ah but, what about this" with a kind of implicaton in my mind that we had to find an answer of how to prevent that teaching-to-the-test. Thinking out loud. Does anyone understand what I'm trying to say?
# TB: The point about idolising the metric, is that it then becomes the standard. That might get out of proportion eventually. [z583]
# NB: Is AB saying "If I build a good measurement and other people idolise it, that's not my problem". I'm a bit cautious to accept that, because if I have built something that I know will be a temptation for others to idolise, or I measure something and publish the measurement and I'm worried that people will 'teach to the test' rather than improve the thing I am actually measuring, then it's partly my responsibility to shape this measurement in a way that tends toward better use. [z584]
# AB: Very good point. Thank you. [AB: AB realised that that is definitely not what he meant to imply] A part of it is how we use the measurements, but that's a very good rejoinder, NB, thanks very much. Even the measurer, or let's say the constructor of computer software, has a responsibility.
# SJ: The constructor of nuclear energy, perhaps. How it is used by different countries.
[Amiga time 17.13]

--- Recap

# AB: We have about 20m minutes left. How are we getting on?
# SJ: What was the first question in email?
# AB: One question was about what we don't need to measure, and then why we don't need to measure them.

--- Christian Values [z516]

# AB: I was going to suggest that we think of the 8 core Christian values. As I read them, think, not can we measure, but why is it not appropriate to measure, or why is it difficult to measure, or when might it be not appropriate to measure. I'll read them out slowly:

# Why inappropriate to measure?

# So, if we think of those, why is it that they are difficult to measure or inappropriate to measure? (One or two of them have come up before.)

# NB: First and foremost because they are attitudes rather than actions. [z585] ***
# NB: An action can be more readily measured than an attitude. Attitude is experienced internally. I canno\t tell even in my own mind, how gracious I'm feeling, how loving I'm feeling, certainly noone external to me could grasp that.

# SJ: Agree. Internal experience we have: c.f. tacit versus explicit knowledge. If we try to share our experience, even in the community of Christians, [z586]
# Example: How we experience Jesus at certain moments, we experience his presence more than other moments. But when you try to share that, to explain that to someone as a kind of testimony, are you really able to give justice to that experience?
# For me personally, whenever I open my mouth and share it I think I had better shut up, because its very personal.
# It has its own value when I keep quiet about.

# NO: It's troubling, because I don't know if I want to get into works v righteousness here, but for example, faith, you can say you have faith in anything, but until it's demonstrated, I say it doesn't mean anything. Or love. And particularly those two definitions were troubling to me. [z587]
# justice: until you demonstrate that you are home? justice, you can say "I'm a very just person, but I believe every green person should be crucified" but if I do that, then I'm not really a very just person.
# I agree it's attitudes, but the only thing we can measure are our actions.
# NB: I think James answers back there to some extent.
# NO: [Laughter] You know, I'm a Lutheran, but I do believe that the Catholic Church did a pretty good for 1500 years.
# AB: in some things! # NO: We're only human. # AB: That's no excuse. [laughter, banter]
# [AB: added 23 April 2021: Does not James mean that we have to actualise our faith in practice, rather than measure it? So "demonstrated" might refer to our functioning in line with our faith, rather than it being measured?]

--- Two Questions About Values [z517]

# NB: So the fundamental question of, Why ought we avoid measuring our faith? [AB: Or presumably any of the xn values?]
# NB: We haven't even agreed in this group, the first thing, Should we avoid measuring our faith? To the extent that there's a note of caution in it, Where does that caution about measuring come from? To me it's about reducing, if I try to measure my faith because the measurement can't capture the whole thing, there's the danger of losing sight of the bits that aren't captured. [z588]
# AB: helpful
# NB: The 2nd question: Is it better to not measure, or to find a better measure that captures even more of my faith? [z589]
# I think my answer is that it's better to not measure, but I do have some sympathy for those who want to come up with an even better measurement.

# NO: It's a very scary thing. Unfortunately, I think the horse is out of the barn. [z590]
# Example: Communist China is measuring people's attitude to the Party. It rewards people who love Qi Jing Ping and demotes people who don't. In business today, many software programs are using what's called gamification. Young kinds, my kids, play games like you wouldn't believe. So I think we1ve opened the door to measuring things. And we might as well measure Christian values too. [z591]

[AB: Reflection: But did we not pose the question of whether measuring, or at least how we use it, could be part of sin? [z592] ]

# AB: Not sure I fully agree. There's something valuable about measuring.
# But I don't think it's [the concern's?] that. I don't think it's horses out the barn. Let us take the extreme case, of people in China, who are discriminated against because the app happens to give them a low measurement on love for the regime, so they don't get as many bananas as the next person, or they don't get into the higher schools as the next person, etc. But in some ways, Jesus promised us discrimination and persecution. And that is seen in people like Peter and so on as an honour rather than a problem. In some way - and I don't want to over-emphasise this but it does need to be taken into account - that this might happen is not the be-all-and-end-all of problems that we have to find a way of avoiding. Over a longer period - and Tom Holland is good on this - over a long period it is Christians that have been persecuted that have actually had the good effect on society. So, somehow, if you take the bigger picture, [z593] - I dunno. I'll shut up.
# Chat, NB: Should we be measuring a persecution index?
# SJ: Persecution: Is that one of the Christian values, to offer your suffering to Christ? # AB: ok, that's nice
# NB: It's a subset of love, a willingness to suffer for the greater good, even if the greater good is as abstract as standing up for what is right and true. [z594]
# NO: My Catholic friends: The book, The Imitation of Christ. They went round setting up communities who measured themselves by how much abuse they could take - which I consider ridiculous and not necessarily Christian, but there's still a segment in the church that follows that. But I don't know that's that what Jesus wanted us to be doing.

# AB: Is the problem with that pride, rather than whether they measure or not, e.g. rivalry? [z595]
# NB: There's a lot of works-rightesouness built into that. But we can still honour the impulse of their hearts to be willing to give up their own comfort, to suffer for what they see as the greater good. Even if we disagree and not see the greater good there. # AB: OK.
# NO: That may be fair.

----- Highlights [z518]

# AB: Right, it's 2-3 minutes to go. Sounds as though we could keep on going. I'll try to tidy up over the last few days.
# What highlights has each person heard during the discussion@

# TB: Actions v attitudes - nub of where we can quantify value or not. [z596]

# CA: When we say that "I love God" for example, the question is, when i say that, am i bringing up something else, e.g. that I want people to like me. Would that bring up something negative. Or I'm telling people, "Look I'm kind, I'm donating here and there, would that be my pride, saying "look at myself, I'm doing really well over here."
# NB: [Clarification] Question for CA: Are you saying that measurement and telling people are the same thing, in your mind? That to measure kindness and to tell people how kind you are, is the same thing to you?
# CA: If you keep it to yourself it's different from putting it out. Because you know that someone is going to see that. [z597]
# NB: [Example:] I weigh myself regularly because I want to be a better person, which is the person who weighs less, but I don't tell people about my measurement, I'm not bragging, but I'm trying to use the measurement to improve myself. I'm curious if a kindness measurement could be used similarly.
# NB: And so, the issue of publicising my stats is a separate issue from gathering the stats in the first place.
# NO: That's true: It goes with goal setting. Sometimes when you set a goal you have to not only write it down but you have to publicly declare that, and when you do, you're making a stronger commitment to your goal.
# NB: If I published my weight on Facebook every day, I would probably be more effective in reducing my weight, yes. But, CA, I don't think that gets at the point you were making, so I'm asking for clarification of all that.

# CA: For example, if I say I can't and I'm talking about it, in church or somewhere, what do i say? For example, I'm giving examples to people - because I notice that people in church want to talk about what I'm doing right now and how does that affect you. Lots of such conversations. e.g. "This is really helpful to me because I have now started to make some donations to children's charity, because of this part." [AB: I think she meant e.g. a Scripture verse.] Sometimes when we are telling people what we are doing there are two motives that come up. One is me trying to help other people, "This is some actions that we can do to help us". The other is another part of me, which is pride, saying "Look how good I'm doing". [z598]
# Am I, saying what I'm saying, reducing another part of that - you know.
# NO: That helps.

# SJ: I'm thinking about the kindness example. I'll keep it for next session, because I'm thinking about it.

# NB: I'm actually more confused than when I started. I would love to have tools to help us beam - live out our Christian values better. And I'm actually less sure whether measurement is an appropriate response to that need than when I started. That's probably a good sign; it means good discussion has happened.

# NO: I've learned to be a little more moderate in my belief that we should be valuing Christian things but I'm not sure - I don't think we're committed as a world already. I did learn a bunch of other interesting collateral things about measurement. For example the Belbin Test.

# AB: Attitudes rather than actions. [AB: AB did not mean rather than, or instead of, but both and.] It gives me a clearer idea to work on as to when and whether it's good to measure or not measure. More to it than that, but at least there's something to think about it.
# NO: Remember measuring geometrically. We need balance between actions and attitudes - not so much attitude that we have no action.
# AB: I don't see it as either-or. # NO: No, it's a balance. AB: No, I don't see it even as a balance. They go together; both on the same side of the scale. "Out of the heart the mouth speaks" or "Out of the heart come all these evil things." Jesus said.

# NB closed in prayer.
[Amiga 17.35ish]

# AB: Next time? Two week's time?
# Topic? More on Christian values?
# NB: More on the list of Christian values that you read off?
# AB: I'll send round the pdf of 8 Values.
# NB: We seem to be able to keep a discussion going.

[AB: A thought came and was added later: Another reason for not depending on measuring, some things cannot be measured with any meaningful accuracy. For example Dasgupta [2021 Abridged, 14] gives the figure for biodiversity as "Today there are 8-20 million species of organism ..." and the range 8-20 million is almost meaningless and useless except to say "a huge lot". ] [z599]

Last updates: 21 June 2021: a few errors corrected; additional notes. 31 August 2021 corrected /ul format.