|2021/2023||Kjetil Lysne Voje||Researcher||University of Oslo (UiO)|
How do we know Mount Everest is taller than K2, or that the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has been increasing for decades? Measurement – the act of assigning numbers to entities we intend to study – is a crucial part of any quantitative science. Measurement theory is a branch of applied mathematics that provides guidance on how to extract meaning from empirical observations. However, and despite its critical role for conducting good science, measurement theory remains, to a large extent, unknown in large parts of biology, including the field of paleobiology. Paleobiology applies quantitative analyses on data from the fossil record to describe and explain the origin, loss and evolution of biodiversity on Earth.
This Young CAS Fellow project will bring together a team of international early-career evolutionary biologists and paleobiologists interested in measurement theory. The aims of the project are to (i) recognize specific aspects of measurement theory that are relevant for the quantitative study of the fossil record, (ii) identify key studies within paleobiology where violations of measurement theoretical principles compromise their meaning, and (iii) write a perspective/review paper that introduces measurement theory to a paleobiological audience.