What is the point of putting everything in the rankings? Does it matter that the Netherlands fell into the list of the happiest countries and how important is it that your university or hospital is no longer in the top 100?
“Life is incredibly complex, and it’s really nice to be able to flatten it out in some way to make it easier to grasp.” So says Berend van der Kolk, associate professor at the Free University of Amsterdam and author of the book De Meetmaatschappij.
Van Der Kolk says rankings make it easier for people to make choices for a school, university or hospital, for example. “Rankings give a kind of grip, they are numbers and we are in awe of the numbers. But I think sometimes it’s an illusion of grip. A lot of things often escape such a ranking.”
“The compilation of rankings is subjective”
Van Der Kolk warns that all sorts of subjective choices are made when compiling a ranking. “We must first look at: what are we going to measure, how are we going to measure it and how are we going to distribute the weights. These are already subjective choices.” But also mentions the media value if a university or hospital has moved up or down one place, or ends up in the top 10. “Because we all really want to know if you’re okay.”
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