Data doesn’t lie is a myth

by | Apr 26, 2021 | ICT4D |

data doesn't lie

Data doesn’t lie assumes completely objectively and wholeness. Or perhaps it doesn’t. Perhaps data doesn’t lie is true as long as we and the caveat ‘but is from one perspective’. Data is a perspective. And therefore is not a lie, but it is not objective. It is subjective.

Data is rarely ‘whole’. We do surveys, not of the whole population, but rather of a part. Good statisticians help us extrapolate the results to a wider population. But even so, there are always people and groups left out. We see this especially when we use mobile phones for surveys. Women and girls and people living with disabilities have the least access to phones globally, especially in poorer communities. So they are left out. Their voice is not heard. And while we are at it, women and girls and people living with disabilities have the least representation in the coding and tech community. Therefore, their views are not part of design conversations or the thousands of individual decisions made in creating solutions. And therefore, the data created by these solutions reflect this bias.

And then there are deep fakes. The ability to change data to look real, but be a lie. From changing maps to show military targets which don’t exist to creating videos of people saying things they never did. Or just simply ‘polishing up’ your zoom photo.

Perhaps it’s time to stop promoting and believing the myth of objectivity and truth. Perhaps it’s time for a new narrative of data providing us with a perspective, not the perspective.

The choice is up to us.

Photo by Markus Spiske


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *