Thursday, 30 September 2010

Numbers, numbers, numbers...

A new best-selling book called Proofiness opens with a quote that we are “vulnerable to the belief that any alleged knowledge which can be expressed in figures is in fact as final and exact as the figures in which it is expressed,” then the rest of the book explains why this “proofiness” is really “mathematical deception.” (h/t AidWatch)
Proofiness. It is entirely possible that this book will go way over my long-since-fallen-into-disuse mathematical skills but I'd love to read it anyway, partly for the awesome name and partly because it sounds really interesting. Uses of data - one of the things that fascinates me.

Speaking of data, I've been tripping over free data sites all over the place in the last couple of weeks. I've been following for a while the discussion (campaign?) to get more data released into the public sphere on Gapminder. Gapminder has particularly useful visualisations and lots of data and is one of my favourite sites. World DataBank has lots more data. I also tripped over the World Values Survey. AidData tracks aid financing. And StatsSA's online data.

Access to data may not solve the world's problems but it does make for a more interesting, informed and possibly more engaged discussion.

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