Here’s another example of how we seize on numbers we can see, no matter how uncertain and meaningless they might be, because there’s not yet a viable alternative source of information.
As a society, we will probably opt for prostate testing no matter how flawed it is until there’s a better, more accurate alternative. In other words, bad, misleading information is better than no information, especially in a culture that prizes initiative and can-do-ness over a more fatalistic view of life: Yes We Can!
This is a design challenge for anybody trying to help people make sense of data. It is also especially important for us right now as we try to figure out a meaningful privacy guarantee for the datatrust. It’s easy for us to guarantee that you’ll never know with 100% certainty the answer to any question. But in many situations, people won’t need anything close to 100% certainty to feel compelled to act.
Certainly in the case of screening for diseases, it’s incredibly hard to do nothing if there is even a hint of a chance that we might be fatally ill.
What are other examples of numbers we make too much of and can’t get enough of?
- Poll numbers
- Housing data
- Almost any study that comes about health and nutrition
Tags: Privacy Guarantee