In my mind, data should always being used. I may be slightly biased in my assessment of the use of data as opposed to the lecture last night. Being an economics major at Colby, data is the backbone that drives all the studies. While having theories about a lot of things is useful for teaching concepts it is the experimental data that will prove theories. Precisely, in one experiment the theory would suggest one outcome, but the real outcome is much more drastic because of behavior we cannot predict. For this the use of data is extremely crucial for trying to make progress in the field of economics.
Along with my study of economics my other passion is sports. In the last ten years, there has been a major push, with one word coming to mind sabermetrics. When referring to the last ten years it is more that more people have learned about the idea on a larger scale. Sabermetrics was the idea behind the “Money Ball”, which led the As to the playoffs with one of the lowest paid rosters in all of major league baseball. While in baseball it revolutionized the important numbers that batter must produce, favoring on base percentage as opposed to batting average it went much deeper. It started to track what pitches a pitcher threw and if he didn’t vary it enough it could give the batter an advantage. In basketball sabermetrics studied how players being used and if they could be used better, for example many players are taken out early because of foul trouble. The team would most likely perform better if they kept them in the game longer and risked fouling out. In both cases, big data has been used for the benefit teams and individuals. Is there an argument for not using big data?
As previously stated my studies at Colby, and the way I like statistical studies to back up theories I am biased towards thinking data is always a benefit to society. I think studying data is always very useful, but could the release of data allow for people to support their own flawed ideas? For instance, black men are more likely to be incarcerated compared to white men. This statistic could allow for someone to support their idea that black men are more dangerous than white men, an obvious racist idea. Whereas it should most likely be viewed as how has the education and justice system failed black men in regards that going to jail is such a common occurrence.
Data has its role in helping us see the world. It has given light into many different areas about how we can improve. Whether that is regarding a sports team trying to be more competitive, or highlighting a possible flaw in our correctional system for people. Today we will always be able to find data about a certain idea or how to influence a result. How we go about using data and making sure it is understood is the most important part.