9 The warning label

Powerful things usually come with warning labels. Examples include pain medication, chemical drain clog removers, construction equipment, and electrical extension cables.

Much of what we’ve seen in this course is a kind of warning label for the data analysis tools. These are powerful; they are used for takes like guiding public policy, conducting scientific research, adjudicating legal disputes, and directing corporate spending. They need to have a warning label.

9.2 Warning: data analysis tools can be harmful in public policy

9.3 Warning: data analysis tools can harm scientific research

  • The “Replication Crisis”

  • Incentives problems in scientific publishing

    • “p-hacking”
    • “HARKing”
    • “The file drawer”
    • Quantity over quality? How many fields could have a Large Hadron Collider type project?
  • Publication bias

  • Communicating science

9.4 Warning: data analysis tools can foster both excessive cynicism and excessive credulity

  • “You can make the data say anything”

  • “The numbers don’t lie”

  • Constructive criticism