This is the time of year I start gearing up for conference presentations (Women in Tech Summit), prepping for class material (Understanding Data at local university and Intro to Tableau at a local tech college).
I don't exactly look in typical places for story themes or ideas for introducing data literacy to populations with varying degrees of educational maturity. I believe in taking the complex and technical and making it more approachable.
So imagine my joy at finding this quirky but charming HBO special by Julio Torres,
My Favorite Shapes. It is pretty much about Julio's favorite shapes (bet you didn't see that coming) but oh so much more.
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The quote at the center of the discussion is an important one,
"Open data is what the government wants you to know. Freedom of information requests are for what they don't want you to know. The things you can't FOI because they don't collect them are what they really don't want you to know." Anna Powell-Smith
What does this mean? When we formulate a data question we need to explore datasets for access and suitability. What do you do if you discover a gap in data collection? Often, I notice we just pull in the low hanging fruit. Race stands in for social constructs or worse--a lousy biologic proxy, poverty is simply a numeric value, and social determinants (correlates) are neglected or not interpreted in a meaningful or reproducible manner.
These are the conversations we need to be having.
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In a world of "evidence-based" medicine I am a bigger fan of practice-based evidence.
Remember the quote by Upton Sinclair...
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”
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