Kept Alive for Thirty Days

Stefan Collini

  • The Tyranny of Metrics by Jerry Z. Muller
    Princeton, 220 pp, £19.95, February 2018, ISBN 978 0 691 17495 2
  • The Metric Tide by James Wilsdon et al
    Sage, 168 pp, £19.99, February 2016, ISBN 978 1 4739 7306 0

How much does your spouse or partner love you? Is it more or less than other people love their partners? To find out, we would need to measure the available evidence. Suppose that having identified the relevant population, we count how many times a week partners are brought tea in bed, how many times they are cuddled, how many times they are told ‘I love you,’ and so on. In this way, we establish benchmarks against which individual performance can be calibrated, with the intention of driving up the quality of loving among failing partners. To further incentivise this group, we maintain lists of those who are now unattached but who exceeded the benchmark when they had a partner; the threat of competition from these alternative love-providers should stimulate out-performance. Studies show that three months after the introduction of the benchmarks, the average increase in frequency of tea in bed is 36 per cent.

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