Friday, November 4, 2022

All Stats Lie - Examples of Social Science Data and "Evidence-Based" Failures

We live in an era guided by what, at times, is a near dogmatic faith in data-driven science and policy-making. Yet, time and again, we fail to account for underlying biases and flaws in how these approaches are applied.

The following is an on-going list of stories and examples where "evidence-based" is causing preventable harm and distorting our view of the reality of situations and events. 

Time and again, we fail to heed the lesson of stories like this or work to challenge or fix how data is defined and how science is done in practice.

Crime Statistics

NPR article - Rising crime statistics are not all that they seem

We generally talk about - crime is up or crime is down. It's referring to sort of this small core set of what the FBI calls index one crimes.That's murder, robbery, rape, aggravated assault, larceny, burglary and auto theft. That list was chosen by a group of police chiefs almost 100 years ago, and it hasn't changed since.

Someone shoplifting tampons or diapers from a pharmacy counts as a crime. But a corporation stealing millions of their workers' wages doesn't. 

When people talk about a crime wave, they're basing that on very distorted set of data the police themselves are manipulating and curating for their own political reasons.

C-section Health Risk Screenings

Reveal News - Reproducing Racism

Reporter Julia Simon takes a look at a commonly used calculator that may be leading black and Latina women to C-sections they don't need.

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