Quantifying things can be a way of creating the illusion of certainty when it really doesn’t exist.
Take for example all these helpful and often wonderfully written advice advice books and articles (on business and life) that have titles with the exact number of some uncovered mysterious truth that is about to be divulged to the reader.
The 7 Secrets; 21 Immutable L…aws, 12 Principles, or 8 Cardinal Rules (see below), and so on.
How do they know that is the exact and final ultimate number of whatever secrets, rules, laws, etc that is being disclosed?
Are they sure?
Have they looked for and ruled out a possible 8th Secret, 22nd Immutable Law, 13th Principle or 9th Cardinal Rule? Or are they lazy or perhaps had an editor pressing them with a publishing deadline and they had to stop with whatever number they had at the time?
I would be really peeved if I bought a book on the 11 Rules of Success and paid full price only to find out later there are actually 16 Rules of Success. Or, God forbid, even more? Could we get a pro-rata amount of our money refunded on such books? If it turns out we only got half the “Secrets” then it stands to reason we should only pay half the price for a book claiming to possess them all and distilled down to a single number.
And what if the Universe is less precise than these authors think? What if in some instances a happy life is comprised of both secrets and habits? It’s conceivable that the formula for a happy life could involve, say, 11 habits, 14 secrets, 3 laws, and 9 immutable truths. I’m not saying it does. I’m just saying it could. And if anyone ever proves that, book authors dispensing advice are going to have to entirely re-think they way they organize and deliver their great ideas. And might even find themselves faced by some sort of class action law suit by their readers on fraudulent claims about the exact number of important items that make up an entire truth.
What about a book titled, “Here’s a bunch of randomly culled ideas I wrote down that may or may not be helpful to you and I’m charging you $15 for it”?
It’s not a catchy title but I think I might buy it anyway. Whatever is inside the book, I at least have a good feeling about the author being trustworthy and not forcing me to risk getting entangled in some complicated class action lawsuit in the future I’ll probably never get any money back from anyway.