2. Separating the Wheat from the Chaff

Knowledge is power, only if man knows what facts not to bother with.

—Robert Staughton Lynd [1]

To pick up on the thread from the preceding chapter (about looking for data in all the right places), just how do we separate the good from the bad or the useful from the not-so-useful data sources?

Ask any grain farmer if it’s important to separate the wheat from the chaff in his harvest. As any good farmer knows, it’s not only a useful saying, but it’s critical to his success. In cereal crops such as rice, barley, oats, and wheat, the seed (which is what we eat) is surrounded by a husk. That husk is known as the chaff, which, when separated from the seed, is generally thrown away as useless. Thus, as farmers ...

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