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Cadernos de Saúde Pública

On-line version ISSN 1678-4464Print version ISSN 0102-311X


CARVAJAL, Yuri  and  KOTTOW, Miguel. The metrology of uncertainty: a study of vital statistics from Chile and Brazil. Cad. Saúde Pública [online]. 2012, vol.28, n.11, pp.2063-2075. ISSN 1678-4464.

This paper addresses the issue of uncertainty in the measurements used in public health analysis and decision-making. The Shannon-Wiener entropy measure was adapted to express the uncertainty contained in counting causes of death in official vital statistics from Chile. Based on the findings, the authors conclude that metrological requirements in public health are as important as the measurements themselves. The study also considers and argues for the existence of uncertainty associated with the statistics' performative properties, both by the way the data are structured as a sort of syntax of reality and by exclusion of what remains beyond the quantitative modeling used in each case. Following the legacy of pragmatic thinking and using conceptual tools from the sociology of translation, the authors emphasize that by taking uncertainty into account, public health can contribute to a discussion on the relationship between technology, democracy, and formation of a participatory public.

Keywords : Uncertainty; Vital Statistics; Cause of Death.

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