Aiming at population-level predictive gambles, they filter who and what counts – including who is released from jail and the news that you see, researchers warn

In the early 1970s, Hannah Arendt wrote a devastating critique of the Pentagon’s Vietnam-era penchant for policy by counting. “The problem-solvers did not judge,” she wrote. “They calculated.”

Exuding the spirit of gamblers rather than statesmen, the decision-makers played “the percentage game”, counting whatever could be counted and ignoring the rest, or the underlying problems, with “an utterly irrational confidence in the calculability of reality”.

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