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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Day I First Met Data

I once sat in a grad-school seminar led by two professors, one best associated with quantitative analysis.  I couldn't help but notice that the professor who was quantitatively inclined sat with his pencil and paper before him.  (There weren't too many laptops in those days.)  Every time someone spoke he added a check mark next to that person's name.  

It seemed the check marks kept coming regardless of the quality of the comments.  They focused on frequency.  There was a young man who clearly failed to complete the rigorous readings.  He waited for another student to reveal some fact.  Then, he seized upon it to build his answer.  He got all his check  marks, more than enough for a Ph.D.  He played the game to perfection.  It was an early introduction to the fine art of gaming data!  And, it pretty much showed me, even back then, that quantitative measures have their limitations.

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