Interpreting Data

26 Sep

It is a myth that data speaks for itself. The analyst speaks for the data. The analyst chooses what questions to ask, what analyses to run, how the analyses are interpreted, and how they are summarized. I use excerpts from a paper by Gilliam et al. on media portrayal of crime as a way to highlight one set of choices by a group of analysts. (The excerpts also highlight the need for reading a paper fully than relying on the abstract alone.)


From Gilliam et al.; Abstract.

White Violent Criminals Are Overrepresented

From Gilliam et al.; Bottom of page 10.

White Nonviolent Criminals Are Overrepresented

From Gilliam et al.; first paragraph on page 12

Relative Underrepresentation Between Violent and Nonviolent Crime is a Problem

From Gilliam et al.; Last paragraph on page 12
From Gilliam et al.; First paragraph on page 13