Measuring land degradation
DOI link for Measuring land degradation
Measuring land degradation book
I Introduction I.I The context It would be good to believe that science is fact and that measurement is right. Indeed, so tempting is the thought of the neutrality of science (and the objectivity of measurement) that many who should know better - scientists for example - believe it, and those not in a position to judge believe it too. The white-coat syndrome is a powerful force, and nowhere is this more true than in the presentation of results of experiments and programmes of measurement. Measurement, however, is not an isolated process. First, somebody has to decide to do the measurement; set a working hypothesis for the measurement to test; choose a set of techniques; arrange a sampling programme and people to do the sampling; analyse the results and use judgement in the interpretation of these results; and decide how those results should be presented, and to whom. Then there is the recipient of the measurement who puts the data into context (or rejects them entirely) and who has to make value judgements as to the worth and applicability of the information. Finally, there is the end-user of the measurement; the person who makes the decisions, who bases a course of action on the results so presented. All these people have their preconceptions, misconceptions and ideologies. Therefore, measurement is never neutral, never a pure service for science or policy. To quote Weatherall: 'Man, as a scientist, is inescapably part of any experiment he conducts' (1968: 159).