Incompetence, delegation, and population

Anticipating your friendly statistician’s top 5 objections

Cassie Kozyrkov
Sep 22, 2018 · 6 min read

Your friendly statistician’s objections

Objection 1: This isn’t what the decision-maker is interested in.

Objection 2: The decision-maker isn’t the actual decision-maker.

If your goal is to persuade people using data, you may as well throw rigor out the window (since that’s where it belongs) and make pretty graphs instead.

Leaders, stop pretending you have the time to make every decision. It’s time to delegate!

Left: Hey look, this is a completely desolate place. No one ever goes here. Right: Look again. These photos are data… turns out data can lie. And if you think there’s some applicable magic involving 30 datapoints, want to bet I can’t find you 3000 tourist landmark photos with no one in them?

Objection 3: There is no decision.

Objection 4: The decision-maker doesn’t know what they’re doing.

If the decision-maker doesn’t have the right skills, the whole project is doomed.

I hope they warned you that being a data scientist may include babysitting an unskilled decision-maker.

Instead of firing bad decision-makers, you can augment them by hiring a helper: the qualitative expert.

Objection 5: Insufficiently specific population description.

Tolerate no ambiguity! If you want nice things, expect to pay for them with effort.

Statisticians, if you sense that your decision-maker failed to do a thorough job, don’t budge until that homework is complete.

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Cassie Kozyrkov

Written by

Chief Decision Intelligence Engineer, Google. ❤️ Stats, ML/AI, data, puns, art, theatre, decision science. All views are my own. twitter.com/quaesita

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