The fact that 'Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics' is a phrase that has been in use for more than 100 years is perhaps an indication of the abuse to which data has been subjected in public discourse. We are by turns exasperated, decieved and baffled by the incessant quoting of percentages, putative correlations and trends by politicians, journalists and pundits, which we then sprinkle into our conversations (tweets, facebook updates) in more or less thoughtful, balanced ways. Usually less.
If we are to harness the potential of open data to allow us to ask better questions, and make better choices, we need to consider what kinds of conversation allow us to reach an informed consensus, rather than afford 'victory' to the most skillful orator with the weightiest arsenal of 'killer stats'. more >