Numbers never lie.
Unlike people, who are constantly confused by their own biases and perspectives, numbers behave….if you know how to use them.
This is what I do for work every day:
First, I get what management thinks is the problem. Second, I talk to the people involved and find out what they think is the problem. Third, I get to retreat in to the numbers. I spend time looking at what we’re doing, where we are, and where we’d need to be for everyone to be happy. It’s the third part that’s my favorite. No one argues, no political pressure, just puzzles, problems, and unexpected truths.
I use data every day to help improve health care, and I’ve been pretty successful at it so far. As I look around though, I realize how few people really understand the importance of good data in our lives. One needs look no further than election year politics to see bad data, poor interpretations of good data, and blatant misuses that make me cringe. In the healthcare realm, we don’t have this luxury. I come from a world where you can’t take chances, where misrepresenting your stats can result in very real human suffering.
This is why improper uses of data drive me nuts. Once you know what to look for, it’s hard to stop seeing it. It’s everywhere. Thus, I am giving myself an ambitious goal. It’s no longer enough for me to use good data science for my own purposes. I want to educate others, and hone my own skills along the way. I want people to know what research is, how to read it, and how to question it. I want others to be as passionate as I am, and I want a place to vent about the reporting that annoys me.