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Posted Monday, April 29, 2013 10:49 AM
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I'm not sure if you linked to this or not, but here is a wonderful video presentation titled "Stats that will reshape your world view". The video is as much about how to use stats to shape one's world view at the stats themselves. The video is dramatic and includes information about freely available software which you can use yourself to make your stats interesting and digestible.

http://www.ted.com/playlists/77/new_to_ted.html

That said, it should be noted that humans (like most animals I would guess) need emotions to make decisions. For example, we know that people with brain injuries who are cut off from their emotional centers have trouble making even the most basic of decisions. (Is it time to go to bed? Should I brush my teeth?) My point is: Stats can help inform our emotions, but we should not forget that the stats by themselves do not do the work. A presentation, while helped along by good data presented well, needs to engage emotions to be effective.
Post #1447653
Posted Monday, April 29, 2013 1:27 PM
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I'd refer to what Bono speaks of as "datavisim" though it doesn't have the same catchy moniker. As some have pointed out, what some call "facts" are really just conclusions about the particular data involved. Multiple people can look at the exact same data and derive totally different conclusions - and that's WITHOUT worrying about politics or causes. Some conclusions are appropriate, some less so, and as Steve quite correctly points out having access to the underlying data can help cross check conclusions.

Even then there can be issues with data as in is this accurate data? Is it complete data? Is it data that is appropriate for whatever conclusions are drawn? Is it appropriate data to even USE for a given purpose? Is there other data not present which affects the conclusions?

This isn't to say we CAN'T draw conclusions from data, just that great care needs to be taken. I've noticed an increasing tendency across the political spectrum for a kind of "technocratic religiosity" in that data (or more correctly conclusions drawn from data) are being used as brickbats to lessen or even silence opposition. Shades of groupthink.

Leaving the philosophical realm behind, I've done volunteer work for non-profits and even local governments to help them manage thier data. It is definitely a field where opportunity abounds and regardless of political persuasion can be an opportunity to light the proverbial candle in the darkness. Even something as simple as a contact management solution or possibly a data warehouse to track and analyze donations or expenses can make a huge difference.

And sometimes it's just fun to take a dataset and play around with it for no particular reason other than to learn. Kind of like the guy who "pinged the Internet" just for fun.


____________
Just my $0.02 from over here in the cheap seats of the peanut gallery - please adjust for inflation and/or your local currency.
Post #1447734
Posted Tuesday, April 30, 2013 10:55 AM


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There are facts and then there is narrative. Politicians, the media, and activists are more concerned with the narrative, because that's what gets their point across to the audience. However, these perceived experts are often times wrong.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2013/04/19/177999020/episode-357-how-much-should-we-trust-economics
http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2013/04/29/179853272/elegance-trumps-ethics-in-a-scientific-scandal
http://www.amazon.com/Wrong-us-Scientists-relationship-consultants/dp/B005DI6QAM

In this age of web publishing, there is no reason why the actual data ostensibly used as the basis for a research paper, news story, or political position can't be made readily available to the reader, and it often times is provided. However, the general public doesn't know how to analyze large amounts of data.
I believe that where we in the data professional community can contribute the most is, not jumping on the bandwagon and promoting some cause, but rather taking on the role of validating and presentation of data, providing tools that the public can use to draw their own conclusions.
Post #1448144
Posted Thursday, May 2, 2013 8:35 AM
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Great post Steve. You'd think that the idea of presenting data would be non-controversial, but there you have it.
Post #1448835
Posted Monday, May 6, 2013 8:22 AM


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JJ B (4/29/2013)


http://www.ted.com/playlists/77/new_to_ted.html



Nice playlist. I've only seen 2 or 3 of those, so I'll have to watch the rest.







Follow me on Twitter: @way0utwest

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