Chapter 7Data Literacy and Empowerment:The Core Responsibilities of the Data Team

The Illusion of Validity: How to Avoid Data Biases

When you develop your opinions on the basis of weak evidence, you will have difficulty interpreting subsequent information that contradicts these opinions, even if this new information is obviously more accurate.

—Nassim Nicholas Taleb

They operated from a clandestine apartment in Harlem, a block from Columbia University, at 401 West 118th Street. A cell comprising 18 of the most respected American mathematicians and statisticians spirited data sets up the stairs, analyzed them, and stole to Washington, DC, on military aircraft to present the results of their ruminations to the admirals of the navy and the marines and the generals of the army, marines, and air force during the Second World War.1 Allen Wallis, director of the Statistical Research Group (SRG), said of his team, “This was surely the most extraordinary group of statisticians ever organized.” He continued:

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