Algorithm reluctance, home-visit showdown, and the problem with wearables.
kitten on keyboard awww!

Yikes, evidence-based decisions are taking on water. Decision makers still resist handing the car keys to others, even when machines make better predictions. And government agencies continue to, ahem, struggle with making evidence-based policy.  — Tracy Altman, editor 1. Evidence-based home visit program loses funding. The evidence base has developed over 30+ years. Advocates for home visit programs […]

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False dichotomy: Data-driven vs. gut-feel
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Smart decision-making is more complicated than becoming ‘data-driven’, whatever that means exactly. We know people can make better decisions if they consider relevant evidence, and that process is getting easier. But too often tech enthusiasts dismiss people’s decisions as based on gut feel, as if data will save us from ourselves. Let’s put an end to […]

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Analytics teams need to be insight integrators.
storm troopers

1. Lori C. Bieda of SAS is spot on, describing how analytics professionals can grow into roles as trusted advisors for senior executives. In The Translation Layer: The Role of Analytic Talent, she explains that "Analytics teams… need to evolve from data providers into insight integrators." Lots of detailed observations and recommendations in this white […]

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Don’t show me the evidence. Show me how you weighed the evidence.
calculator saying I don't Know

Sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking that if people just had access to all the relevant data, then the right decision – and better outcomes – would surely follow. Of course we know that’s not the case. A number of things block a clear path from evidence to decision to outcome. Evidence can’t speak for […]

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‘What Works’ toolkit, the insight-driven organization, and peer-review identity fraud.

1. Abundant evidence → Clever synthesis → Informed crime-prevention decisions The What Works Crime Toolkit beautifully synthesizes – on a single screen – the evidence on crime-prevention techniques. This project by the UK’s @CollegeofPolice provides quick answers to what works (the car breathalyzer) and what doesn’t (the infamous “Scared Straight” programs). Includes easy-to-use filters for […]

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Randomistas fight poverty, nurses improve youth outcomes, and decision support struggles.

1. Jason Zweig tells the story of randomistas, who use randomized, controlled trials to pinpoint what helps people become self-sufficient around the globe. The Anti-Poverty Experiment describes several successful, data-driven programs, ranging from financial counseling to grants of livestock. 2. Can an early childhood program prevent child abuse, crime, drug abuse, and neglect? Yes, says […]

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Equity crowdfunding algorithms, decision-making competitions, and statistical wild geese.

1. CircleUp uses algorithm to evaluate consumer startups. Recently we wrote about #fintech startups who are challenging traditional consumer lending models. CircleUp is doing something similar to connect investors with non-tech consumer startups (food, cosmetics, recreation). It’s not yet a robo adviser for automated investing, but they do use machine learning to remove drudgery from […]

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What counts as good evidence? Alliance for Useful Evidence offers food for thought.

“What counts as good evidence?” is a great conversation starter. The UK-based Alliance for Useful Evidence / Nesta offers seminars and publications to “explore what is realistic in terms of standards of evidence for social policy, programmes and practice.” Prompting discussion was a ‘provocation paper’, What Counts as Good Evidence?, by Sandra Nutley, Alison Powell, […]

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ROI from evidence-based government, milking data for cows, and flu shot benefits diminishing.

1. Evidence standards → Knowing what works → Pay for success Susan Urahn says we’ve reached a Tipping Point on Evidence-Based Policymaking. She explains in @Governing that 24 US governments have directed $152M to programs with an estimated $521M ROI: “an innovative and rigorous approach to policymaking: Create an inventory of currently funded programs; review […]

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Watson isn’t thinking, business skills for data scientists, and zombie clickbait.

1. Evidence scoring → Cognitive computing → Thinking? Fantastic article comparing Sherlock Holmes to Dr. Watson – and smart analysis to cognitive computing. This must-read by Paul Levy asks if scoring evidence and ranking hypotheses are the same as thinking. 2. Data science understanding → Business relevance → Career success In HBR, Michael Li describes […]

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