If you missed the second speaker in the new Data Citizens: A Distinguished Lecture Series, you can watch it now. Scholar and author Deborah Stone, PhD, Director, spoke on numbers and counting, how we label things, and how important the human element is in attributing meaning to data.
The lecture took place on Thursday, December 10, 2020, via Zoom from 4:00 until 5:30 PM (ET).
Professor Emerita at Brandeis University, Dr. Stone is a political scientist whose work spans public policy, sociology, philosophy, and law. Dr. Stone has taught at M.I.T., Duke, Yale, and Aarhus University in Denmark, in addition to Brandeis. Her widely acclaimed textbook, Policy Paradox: The Art of Political Decision Making, explores the squishy but often unacknowledged values, stories, and psychology that drive policymaking and analysis. She has written extensively on health policy, disability, caregiving, and altruism—or lack of it—in politics. Dr. Stone will talk about her new book, Counting: How We Use Numbers to Decide What Matters.
TALK Title: “There’s No Such Thing as a Raw Number” The word “data” has come to be synonymous with numbers. When policymakers demand evidence, they mean numbers. Numbers have become our truth meters because most people think they’re more objective than words and stories. But if we look closely at where numbers come from, even kindergarten-level counting requires humans to make judgments about what counts as the thing they’re counting. Move on to more complicated and contentious concepts such as unemployment, gender violence, crime risk, or Covid deaths, and the possibilities for subjectivity and power plays mushroom. Counting and measurement are tremendously useful tools, but we should be wary of relying of them to resolve political conflicts and moral dilemmas.
About Data Citizens: A Distinguished Lecture Series
This is a new IDSC virtual series that will include panels and in-depth talks by top-level experts in the field of data science. Topics will include the role of data science in fields like psychology, climate change, healthcare, art, neuroscience, and ethics.