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The Great Fire Wall of China

As my regular readers know, I am writing from China these days, and have been doing so four years so far. Sometimes the blog becomes inaccessible to me, making it impossible to post regularly. In fact, starting in late September 2014, China began interfering with many Google-owned entities of which Blogspot is one. If the blog seems to go dark for a while, please know I will be back as soon as I can get in again. I am sometimes blocked for many weeks at a time. I hope to have a new post up soon if I can gain access. Thank you for your understanding and loyalty.

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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Data-Driven Fallacy

“Data- driven” sounds like a great way to make decisions. It even sounds scientific. What could possibly go wrong?

When data drives decisions, stakeholders, especially stake holders under pressure, will find a way to influence the data in their favor. Therefore Well Fargo employees, pressured to meet sales quotas, open dummy accounts. HRBlock tax preparers, pressured to demonstrate the success of the Second Look program, begin regular tax returns as Second Look returns and convert them midway to a standard tax return without the client’s knowledge, and teachers change answer sheets for standardized tests.

When statistics become the most important consideration, employees will create the statistics they need. It is only human nature. Performance evaluations MUST be holistic, not only to prevent fraud, but also, and most importantly, to form a comprehensive evaluation of the employee including factors not easily quantified, yet crucial to student success. Noth8ing is a panacea, not even and maybe not especially “data driven” decisions.