About Suffering in the World (homepage) / Algoscience / Preparatory Notes for the Measurement of Suffering / Quantification Research about Suffering at the ISP


The present document is a part of an ongoing work that is described on the webpage entitled "Quantification Research about Suffering at the ISP".

Ralph G. H. Siu's published writings on quantification are mainly found in four documents.

· Panetics – The Study of the Infliction of Suffering, Ralph G. H. Siu, Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Vol. 28 No. 3, Summer 1988, p. 6-22, Sage Publications, Inc., 1988.

· Less Suffering for Everybody – An Introduction to Panetics, Ralph G. H. Siu, Panetics Trilogy Vol. I, The International Society for Panetics, Washington, DC, 1993.

· Panetics and Dukkhas – An Integrated Study of the Infliction of Suffering and the Reduction of Infliction, Ralph G. H. Siu, Panetics Trilogy Vol. II, The International Society for Panetics, Washington, DC, 1993.

· Understanding and Minimizing the Infliction of Suffering — An integrating and Focusing Discipline Called Panetics, Ralph G. H. Siu, The International Society for Panetics, Washington, DC, 1998.

The last work in 1998 has collected the essential of Siu's writings on quantification, but a few significant passages in the former works have not been repeated in the last one. Therefore, an indexing review of the 1998 book will first be presented, followed by a short review of the other works for their passages that were not repeated. More recapitulative details and critical comments on the contents of Siu's writings might be given eventually, but an indexing review was deemed to be sufficient at this time.


P. 57-60 - Quantification brought the age of science, technology, business, and the associated industrial, managerial, and bureaucratic revolutions. Even non quantitative spheres of activities like music and painting profited from it. The process of quantification is to measure something, that is, to count the factual or imaginary quanta that can be seen in whatever you are thinking about. Quantification often proves necessary when we have to deal with trade-offs, mutually exclusive burdens, and other concerns of masses of people. Value in financial or commercial transactions, justice in the court system, skill in football are given as examples to illustrate how measures are successfully and helpfully used despite the problematic features that they may involve, such as subjectivity, inconstancy, illogicality, gratuitousness… If you want to be influential in any game which count in competitive life, you have to be fortified with numbers of some kind : qualitative essays or speeches will not do in their place. Dukkha is to suffering of the people what vote is to its democracy and what dollar is to its wealth.

P. 60-61 - Examples of indirect and partial measures of suffering : quality vs intensity, intensity vs quantity, verbal intensity scale, visual analog scale, cerebral potentials, indicators of material deficiencies and projected distress, Abusive Behavior Inventory, International Human Suffering Index…

P. 61 - Seven examples of uses of quantification in panetics (note by the reviewer : this passage may also be relevant to division of panetometry in parts). 1) Comparing the magnitude of suffering in different times, spaces, conditions, sectors of the population. 2)Allocating resources to competing demands for alleviation. 3) Providing options with trade-offs between amount of decreased suffering and associated financial costs. 4) Comparing cost-effectiveness of approaches to alleviation in health care, in working conditions, in crime control, in rehabilitation, in family well-being, etc. 5) Setting goals for alleviation for a group of people or for a category of suffering. 6) Measuring progress in alleviation. 7) Accounting for responsibility in social stewardship.

P. 62-65 - Formation of the dukkha : if the two answers to the question "how badly and for how long have you been hurting?"are multiplied by each other, if a standardized intensity scale of 9 levels is used, and if the duration is expressed in days, then 1 dukkha is the amount of suffering endured by 1 person experiencing 1 intensity level of suffering for 1 day. Justifications : for millennia people have been using quantitative expressions to assess intensity and duration of suffering; they have been satisfied with it; nobody objects to this habit in medical care; multiplying intensity and duration to get quantity is an accepted practice.

P. 62 - It is proposed to measure suffering in dukkhas because of the following advantages. 1) The precision and accuracy is adequate for the purpose and context at hand. 2) The basic data is the direct subjective estimates by the sufferer (how bad, how long, how frequent are your sufferings?). 3) The manipulation of the basic data to provide the final figure for quantity is logically sound. 4) The procedure is sufficiently simple, so that even laymen with minimal education are capable of using it to estimate their own amounts of suffering flowing from various sources and causes. 5) No special equipment is required other than paper and pencil. 6) The method is universally applicable for all individuals, institutions, governments, kinds of sufferings, conditions, and so on, so that comparative analyses, choices, and judgments can be made. 7) The ease and reliability of eliciting the necessary inputs to the calculations have been demonstrated in actual use for some time (see pain assessment in medical practice). 8) In view of the present urgency, the dukkha is capable of being put into general and practical use readily.

P. 65-66 - The dukkha can be used for measuring the quality of life and for gaging collective humane progress. Gross Personal Dukkhas, Gross Institutional Dukkhas, Gross National Dukkhas, Gross Global Dukkhas are introduced. The ratio between an actual Gross Dukkhas and its theoretical maximum provides an estimate of the magnitude of suffering endured during a year by an individual or a group. The ratio between the Gross National Dukkhas and the Gross National Product would provide a humane index of the economy.

P. 66-67 - Suffering at the intensities 8 and 9 should be accorded distinctive consideration in quantification reports. For example, a person that has a low average of dukkhas per day may be in a very bad condition if he or she is subjected to short burst of attacks at high intensity. Or one population may be not better off than another on the basis of a lower GND alone.

P. 67 - "Peak and end rule" : retrospectively, suffering one minute at intensity 3 followed by 30 more seconds at intensity 1 may be perceived as less hurtful than suffering one minute at intensity 3 not followed by 30 more seconds at intensity 1!

P. 67-68 - The quantitative dukkha will facilitate the attainment of more humane objectives in economy, politics, and civilization. It is essential for humane progress, as units of mass and energy are needed in science, or as a monetary unit is required in economics and business.

P. 68 - Justification of approximate measurement : monetary units have wild variations, engineers use approximation routinely, objective social indicators are judgmental…

P. 69 - Top-of-the-head estimates of the average intensity of suffering may be sufficient in certain case, but, in other cases, incremental measurements must be performed.

p. 69 - Between paneticists, there must be agreement in the interpretation, understanding or significance of technical data as well as in the generation of technical data.

P. 70 - GND can be obtained by subjective polls, or if need be by objective statistics.

Chap. 15 — DYNAMICS (of infliction processes) (SIU 1998)

Section III — Speculations on Overall Schema

P. 261 - Perhaps the threatened and actual infliction of suffering is so common because of a presumed quantitative law in human nature : that path to a goal will be followed that seems to require the least expenditure of effort, time, and resources.

P. 261-262 - A mathematical formulation is given that represents the changes in the panetic state of an individual when an agent alters the intensity, the duration or the nature of an inflicted suffering. An agent may be an operator of positive dukkhas (inflicting agent) or of negative dukkhas(alleviating agent).

P. 262 - Discussion on the mathematical validity of quantification in panetics.

P. 262 - Determination of the beginning and end of an episode of suffering.

P. 263 - Panetic systems diagrams for outlining a quantitative schema. Example : Brown's cops-and-robbers panetic systems diagram.

P. 264 - Panetic "critical path analysis" for determining the operational pathway for the least infliction of suffering toward a given goal.

P. 265 - Lanchester Law on quantification of inflicting forces in combat : the capability of an organized group to inflict damages on another group goes up arithmetically with its superiority in technical proficiency and geometrically with its superiority in number of members.

P. 265 - The frequency of random inflictions is a function of the competitive contacts among people. The latter depends on the number of individuals, the population density, the speed of travel and communication…

P. 265-270 - Factors determining the magnitude of an individual's activation threshold for the infliction or the alleviation of suffering. Factors determining the magnitude of the impellence needed to overcome this activation threshold.

Section IV — Panetic Equilibrium, Conflict, and Resolution

P. 271-276 - Panetic equilibrium or quasi-equilibrium in a society is defined (on page 587) as a state in which the kinds, amounts, rates, and pathways of suffering being inflicted and those required for the smooth functioning of this society are approximately equal. There is then a balance among opposing forces and interests (cf. p. 296). Conflict arises when two parties or more are able to inflict and to endure telling amounts of suffering for the sake of their interests. Outcomes of conflicts are analyzed in relation with 4 quantitative indices that characterize an individual or a group : perception threshold, tolerance limit, infliction capacity at perception threshold, infliction capacity at 2/3 tolerance limit.

Section V — Panetic Efficiency

P. 276 - A mathematical formulation is given for what is termed "panetic efficiency", which may be defined as the relative amount of returns in a specified objective per instrumental dukkha inflicted.

P. 277 - The Fechner-Weber Law states that the intensity of a perception is proportional to the natural logarithm of the stimulus. It is surmised that a much greater dose of noxious input must be applied to inflict the same number of felt dukkhas in the victim as the panetic baseline rises.

P. 278 - Panetic modulus : coefficient of aggravation or alleviation which may affect an individual, a noxious factor, or a situation and which must be taken into account when converting a potentially noxious input into an estimated number of felt dukkhas (note by the reviewer : this definition is made up by me from sentences in the text).

Section VI — Provisional Panetic Axioms and Section VII — Provisional Panetic Laws

P. 279-281 - Ten axioms and ten laws are very tentatively proposed as basic panetic principles (note by the reviewer : some of them belong to the philosophy of panetometry, and some other could eventually be reformulated to become panetometric hypothesis to be tested within specific research projects).

Chap. 16 — THE GIVENS (concerning reduction and minimization of infliction) (SIU 1998)

Section I — Boundary Conditions

P. 294-295 - An example is given of the importance of boundary conditions in quantitative panetic assessment : Widner's "Hypothetical panetic problematique on suffering of destitute in US".

Section II — Quasi-Equilibrium, Panetic Baseline, and Dukkha Ambiance

P. 296-301 - The concepts of panetic equilibrium constant, dukkha ambiance, panetic baseline, panetic inflation, panetic deflation, Humane Index, Standard Humane Index are introduced.

Section III — Accountability

P. 301-306 - An accountable means for determining the amount of suffering being engendered or alleviated by social agents is necessary if the responsibility for human well-being is to have true and enforceable meaning. Panetic accountancy, with its ledgers of dukkhas and its audits, is not for tomorrow, but, meanwhile, panetic accountability can proceed with semi-quantitative measurements of responsibility. The Gross National Dukkhas together with the Gross National Product could trace an econopanetic overview of national domestic progress. Voters in a democracy could maintain an updated plot of the number of dukkhas being inflicted on them and their families by the actions of politicians. Panetic accounting for an individual or for a group could also be performed for more private purposes by means of "panetic profile charts".

Section IV — Specific Goals

P. 307 - Suffering can be looked upon as a cost in a cost-benefit analysis, as suggested by Kenneth Boulding.

Section V — Available Intellectual Tools

P. 308-317 - Intellectual tools relevant to panetometry are introduced : Pareto analysis (in particular the 80/20 rule), Panetic system diagrams and dukkha flow charts , Langmuir's histograms and curve of concern, Striner's rate of change in dukkha levels, econopanetic matrix display of options, multifactorial spider web display.

Scattered Passages (SIU 1998)

P. 18 - If panetics is to become a practically effective discipline and is to have major impact on the lives of people, it must include a quantitative measurement of suffering for comparisons and assessments.

P. 20-21 - List of questions, mostly relevant to quantification, about inflictive interactions on the macro and micro scale. Laws relative to the amount of suffering per capita in the evolution of mankind, laws relative to the level of inflicted suffering among various classes, laws relative to the interaction between inflicters and inflictees…

P. 31 - List of a number of documents published by the ISP : some of them are relevant to quantification.

P. 239 - Mention of papers by Davis and by Langmuir on the relationship between dollars and dukkhas.

P. 355-374 - Courses for a curriculum in panetics are described. Nine of the some 90 courses seeem particularly relevant to quantification : · ACC 25 Introductory financial accounting · MATH 99 Mathematics for behavioral and social sciences · MATH 126 Operation research and panetic network analysis · MATH 250 Game theory and panetics · PAN 51 Quantitative measurement of suffering · PAN 52 Introductory panetic accounting · PAN 180 Advanced panetic accounting · PAN 185 Dukkhas and dollars · PAN 285 Panetic inflation, deflation, and the Humane Index.

P. 391-393 - Estimation of suffering inflicted by Americans on fellow Americans in 1979, comparatively distributed among various categories of victims and of agents. Estimation of the potential suffering that would be sustained by Americans on one day of total nuclear war.

P. 519-523 - Prototypes of useful panetic techniques : Davis' calculation of the added dukkhas brought up by Dan Quayle's decision on phasing out high-noise aircrafts; Davis' estimation of the panetic impact of a proposed increase in Federal cigarette tax; Siu's proposition of creating dukkha diagrams and panetic tables on civil disturbances; Geelhoed's and Siu's proposition of creating medical dukkha tables and medical econopanetic tables.

P. 545-553 - Proposition to measure the progress of civilization quantitatively by the Gross Global Dukkhas obtained through regular polling surveys.

P. 580-588 - Appendix B — A Panetic Glossary : about 50% of the some 100 entries in the glossary are relevant to quantification.


Only significant passages that are not repeated in Siu 1998 are indexed here.

P. 14 - Quantification of suffering is necessary. To understand human behavior. To weigh accurately the total cost of a personal decision, an industrial enterprise, a religious doctrine, or a government program. To come to grips with the externalities connected with economic production, as with environmental pollution. To knowingly decry exploitation and propose solutions. To speak truly of ethics, morality, law and justice, peace, love, and nobility. To be able to maximize the effectiveness of our efforts at succoring and curing victims of mental pains and damages through counseling, psychotherapeutic, psychoanalytic, and religious avenues.

P. 16 - Can we formulate a semiquantitative unit of suffering for evaluative purpose, and thus make possible the growth of panetics into at least a quasi-scientific branch of knowledge?

P.20-21 - Uses of panetics. Among them some can be more readily identified as uses of quantification. "Potentially inflictable sufferings can be taken into concrete and semiquantitative consideration by decision makers at the source. One might envision a world in which such a practice becomes as standard an economic, social, and political exercise as that involving dollars in business investments, vitamins in infant feeding, and guns in war preparation." Quantification of suffering makes possible to measure social progress, and to assess humaneness in the conduct of governments, corporations, or persons…


Only significant passages that are not repeated in Siu 1998 are indexed here.

 P. iv - "(…) no international standardized quantitative unit of suffering exists. Without it, attempts at a thorough and unified treatment of the subject are hampered. Planning and management toward systematic and sweeping reduction of suffering are severely handicapped. Assessment of the state and advancement of human well-being remains blurred. What is required is an insistent push by socially responsible personnel toward the development of such a parameter and its continuous improvement in real-life utilizations. So primitve is our present practice that we do not even possess an accepted provisional quantitative measure of suffering. Imagine the present status of science and technology without the quantitative units of mass and energy. Or that of economics and business without the quantitative unit of money, albeit so highly variable and subjectively pegged."

P. 24 - An inflicter does not inflict suffering but injects that ingredient that may or may not elicit varying kinds and degrees of suffering.

P. 26 - Relationships between impinging agents and subjective responses : is there a governing psychophysical equation? What would be this equation?

P. 29 - One of the most urgent task for socially conscientious intellectuals and operators is the improvement of the dukkha to the point of international standardization.


Only significant passages that are not repeated in Siu 1998 are indexed here.

P. 11 - An individual's personal estimate of the intensity of his/her suffering cannot logically be challenged, granted it is an honest effort by a person in control of his/her faculties.

P. 12 - There are two main avenues through which an observer can arrive at a credible quantitative estimate of the amount of suffering being experienced by the subject at hand. One is an actual statement by the sufferer… The other is imputed by the observer based on an average intensity of a large number of reports from previous persons in a homogeneous population exposed to the same stressing condition.

P. 14 - Intensity, duration, quantity of suffering : tolerance limit may be determined by any of these factors singly or in combination with the others.

Robert Daoust

Last modification : 2006/10/30