Andreas, Peter, and Greenhill, Kelly M. (Eds.). Sex, Drugs, and Body Counts: The Politics of Numbers in Global Crime and Conflict, (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2010). 287 pp. ISBN 978-0-8014-4861-4 (cloth); ISBN 978-0-8014-7618-1 (pbk).
The ten scholarly papers in Sex, Drugs and Body Counts explore the generation and propagation of numbers that drive policy decisions in the U.S. government regarding human trafficking, drug trade, and armed conflict (including the war on terror). Each of these papers, written by different authors, provides an illuminating insight into how some of the numbers we hear or read in the news are derived. While the general message of the papers tends to be depressing, namely that the numbers driving U.S. policy vary from being slightly suspect to clearly fabricated, the book does provide positive examples of how accurate numbers can be obtained and how the numbers that are being used can be interpreted. As a teaching resource, the book provides instructors an opportunity to deepen their understanding of how quantitative data are used in U.S. policy, allowing them to explore these issues in class. Individual papers from the book could be used in a general education course (either in mathematics or in a field related to the topics) as a way to introduce students to reading quantitatively dense material. In a course more focused on the topics of the book and with a more quantitatively literate audience, the entire book could probably be assigned as reading.
Montgomery, Aaron G.. "Review of Sex, Drugs and Body Counts: The Politics of Numbers in Global Crime and Conflict, edited by Peter Andreas and Kelly M. Greenhill." Numeracy 4, Iss. 1 (2011): Article 8. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5038/1936-46184.108.40.206
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