Data and its Misuse: The Efficacy of Objectivity


  • Priyam Kalavadia


Data, Information, Objectivity, Classification


Mark Twain, the renowned American writer and humourist, is often quoted to have said “facts are stubborn things but statistics are pliable” (Kihuro, 2014). Although anecdotal, the point Mr. Twain makes resonates true in our modern information age society. The use of descriptive statistics is widespread in sports, humanities, academia, and probably of most consequence, news and media outlets. The mathematical properties of statistical analysis are inherently objective, however, its use (or misuse) can be hijacked by bad actors to compliment and give pseudo-rationality to propaganda and tailored societal messages. This misuse may not be deliberate, but to the layman, the message is what is perceived not the mechanism of how it has been portrayed. Data and information in this so-called information age is often branded with terminology that implies objectivity, though, can anything be objective when subject to human interpretation? The purpose of this paper is to question the inherent branding of objectivity in available data and information sources by evaluating mechanisms of representation.


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