On the necessity for society of having sufficient and good quality data

Recently someone posted the following quote from W Edwards Deming on LinkedIn:

Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion

What happen when someone purposely disregards data when delivery a message?

Even worst, what happen when someone purposely take actions to make sure that data cannot be easily acquired so as to make sure that the message cannot be contradicted?

What happen when the above person is your own government (climate, census, or any others from a long list)?


  1. There’s also this beautiful gem:

    If we have data, let’s look at data.
    If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.
    Jim Barksdale, CEO, Netscape (1995-1999)

    (might motivate participants to get data ;-)).

    And I agree, esp. with the good quality data. All to often it’s “Oh, you have your statistics and I have mine.”, or “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” (Benjamin Disraeli), or the like. When it really matters how good the data is, esp. regarding the current issue. Esp. in social sciences, e.g., which biases were inherent in the questions, who was asked when and where, etc. pp. (e.g., http://www.organizingcreativity.com/2013/12/better-surveys/ ).

    Personally, it drives me crazy to see people arguing with studies far beyond what even the authors deemed appropriate, and how some organizations conduct deliberately flawed “studies” to support their ideological agenda (and thus get funding). And all to often, they get away with it, because the data is also “political correct” or feeds people’s prejudices.

    And science can do more than that — or to quote Carl Sagan (although I wouldn’t limit it to experiments, given that you can’t always do them):

    “The truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with. It may be counterintuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But our preferences do not determine what’s true. We have a method, and that method helps us to reach not absolute truth, only asymptotic approaches to the truth — never there, just closer and closer, always finding vast new oceans of undiscovered possibilities. Cleverly designed experiments are the key.”
    Carl Sagan


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