Data and Analysis

The “email of the day” over at The Big Picture is a very funny one indeed.

“Have you ever considered switching from thoughtful to dogmatic?  It’s a lot easier and you make more friends.  Plus, sometimes they send you free bumper stickers in the mail.”

As one who tries consistently to make his decision-making process data-driven, I am more than a little sympathetic to the emailer’s point.  That it is pithy and well-stated is so much the better.

However, as I pointed out in the comments, it is often pretty hard to separate the proverbial sheep from the metaphorical goats: 

“On account of a significant number of cognitive biases, most crucially confirmation bias, distinguishing between the data and the ideology (or, perhaps more accurately, keeping one’s analysis and interpretation of the data reasonably objective — since analysis and interpretation are required for data to be actionable) is really, really hard even in the best of circumstances. Indeed, the data suggests that we all (and not just the people we disagree with) tend to start with our ideologies and then search out facts to support them.”

The difference between ideology and analysis sometimes depends solely upon whose ox is being gored.  Not surprisingly, we all tend to think that our decisions are data-driven while those we disagree with are blinded by ideology.




1 thought on “Data and Analysis

  1. Pingback: Fear, Greed & Ego | Above the Market

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