Measurement Theoreticians Come Up Short!

Irrelevant to practice, out of touch with current conceptual problems, and filled with difficult and arcane mathematics, Philosophical and Foundational Issues in Measurement Theory (Savage CW & Ehrlich P. 1992. Hillsdale NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates) typifies the chasm between most measurement theory and measurement practice. Only three papers in this book (Kyburg, Ellis and Domotor) mention problems as rudimentary as those outlined by Kuhn (1961), e.g., the dichotomy between measures as creations of researchers and measures as givens in text-books.

Ellis comes closest when he discusses criticisms that are 20 to 30 years old, but he does not deal with recent issues - the relationship of measurement to metaphor, cognition, experimentation, socio-economics, language, culture, history.

Kyburg's paper on errors of measurement begins by bemoaning the lack of attention paid to error theory, a lack considered amazing because "it is only the existence of error that allows us to believe in measurement" (p. 90). Kyburg asserts that scientific generalization depends on statistical theories of errors of measurement. The validity of these error theories depends on the results of quantitative tests - that is, on measurements - that is, on the theory of measurement. This close connection between measure theory and error theory is Kuhn's (1961) point, though Kuhn is not cited by Kyburg, and the point is not developed.

As practitioners, we concur with Domotor in criticizing measurement theory for its "endless proliferation of measurement representation results" (p. 202), occurring "because of [the] perception that every qualitative structure must somehow be quantitatively represented" (p. 214). Measurement theorists perseverate in fabricating models to fit data, rather than directing their efforts into specifying useful models and developing guidelines for constructing data to fit them.

Practitioners need to know how to interact with qualities in order to create structures that produce meaningful quantities. From the practitioner's viewpoint, this book, along with most measurement theory, is useless, providing neither knowledge nor meaning.

Kuhn, Thomas S. 1961. The function of measurement in modern physical science. Isis 52(168): 161-193.

Measurement theoreticians come up short. Fisher WP Jr. … Rasch Measurement Transactions, 1994, 8:2 p.361

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Rating Scale Analysis, Wright & Masters Introduction to Rasch Measurement, E. Smith & R. Smith Introduction to Many-Facet Rasch Measurement, Thomas Eckes Invariant Measurement: Using Rasch Models in the Social, Behavioral, and Health Sciences, George Engelhard, Jr. Statistical Analyses for Language Testers, Rita Green
Rasch Models: Foundations, Recent Developments, and Applications, Fischer & Molenaar Journal of Applied Measurement Rasch models for measurement, David Andrich Constructing Measures, Mark Wilson Rasch Analysis in the Human Sciences, Boone, Stave, Yale
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