Interpreting data with humility

I’ve read dozens of articles about the human capabilities we possess for detecting patterns in small data sets.  It’s why we gravitate toward simple charts.  The results are easy to understand.  It’s also why we tend to avoid complex reports, dashboards and infographics.  The vastness of the information exceeds our innate abilities for easy pattern identification.

Which leads to a common pitfall: “a little knowledge makes people believe they are more expert than they really are.”  Quote from Pearl Zhu, blogger at Future of CIO.

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As we take bold strides in 2015 to compile robust reports and data visualizations, let’s remember to be inquisitive about our data, examine preliminary findings with curiosity rather than certainty and seek to fully understand the context of our results.  Let us remember to examine our data outliers rather than ignore or remove them from consideration.  And let us remember to give ourselves time to think.  Our best ideas emerge when we give our brains time to percolate.

 

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