Watchworthy Wednesday: Podcast Examines Human Rights Data Analysis

“Data is always lying to you… but, we can fix it, sometimes, maybe.”

That’s how Patrick Ball, director of research for the Human Rights Data Analysis Group, opens his podcast, “Understanding Patterns of Mass Violence with Data and Statistics.” Published earlier this month, the podcast is part of Databites, a speaker series by Data & Society, a research institute in New York City that focuses on the social and cultural issues arising from data-centric technological development.

The idea that observable data are the same as patterns of behavior is a “naïve model,” Ball says, adding that there are methods for dealing with selection bias.

“In human rights data collection, we don’t usually know what we don’t know. That’s a problem. If you don’t know what you don’t know, how do you know if what you don’t know is systematically different from what you do know?” he asks.

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