The relentless quantification of society continues unabated. The tendency to reduce complex information to a few numbers is overwhelming--in health care, in social policy, in political analysis, in education. ... Although the widespread availability of data should enrich public discourse, inevitable over-simplifications and misinterpretations may ultimately cheapen it. ... Instead of enhancing Jeffersonian democracy, limited numeracy can easily shift the balance to a technocracy.
Innumeracy hurts in other ways as well. For example, public policy issues may increasingly move beyond the intellectual grasp of citizens who lack appropriate skills in quantitative reasoning. Innumeracy encourages the view that all opinions are equally valid, that whenever there is disagreement the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Innumeracy thus becomes another means of disenfranchisement: by reinforcing the idea that truth is relative and unknowable, people with the least defenses against charlatans will be most vulnerable.