Counting in American History
Henry Gifford says below:
"What I can't understand is why people who actually count and use science don't have a bigger advantage over the rest of humanity."
One could argue that Americans' distinction, if any, in business and science is that they "count". Watching the statistical debates and discussions from the Kindleberger seats, I remain in awe of the near obsession that the people have for finding precise, mathematical answers. It is a passion that runs throughout our history. When Washington was at Valley Forge, he spent his time struggling with getting accurate "returns" - accountings of men and supplies. Counting was so important to Washington that he made Nathaniel Greene - the greatest field commander on either side of the Revolutionary War - his head of commissary. It was the obvious evidence of such labor - the daily counting of food, medicines, bandages, forage - that Washington and Greene personally supervised - and not any brave speeches that persuaded the officers and men of the Continental Army to persevere.
On matters that do not "count" people may well believe in complex theories just as they treasure conspiracy stories as pocketbook fiction for airplane rides. But, they usually end up following the people whose numbers actually add up.