We are currently at a strange time regarding the use of data.
On the one hand, it is having a huge impact on our lives, changing the way we shop, how we interact, the things that are advertised to us and even how we move around the country. On the other, we are seeing major decisions and opinions being formed in the face of evidence being presented by data.
As Britain voted to leave the EU despite evidence showing that it was going to have a negative impact on the country as a whole, Michael Gove attempted to discredit the data presented by experts by saying ‘I think people in this country have had enough of experts.’ This wasn’t a slip of the tongue though, as Arron Banks, the largest donor to the Leave campaign stated that the campaign team said early on that ‘facts don’t work’ and that’s it. The remain campaign featured fact, fact, fact, fact, fact. It just doesn’t work. You have got to connect with people emotionally. It’s the Trump success.’
The ‘Trump success’ that Banks refers to is that Donald Trump’s poll to become the next president despite Politifact showing that only 25% of what he has said in his presidential campaign has been even half true. In fact some of his biggest claims such as ‘Don’t believe those phony numbers when you hear 4.9 and 5 percent unemployment. The number’s probably 28, 29, as high as 35. In fact, I even heard recently 42 percent’ and ‘the 2016 federal omnibus spending bill ‘funds illegal immigrants coming in and through your border, right through Phoenix’ have been shown to be completely false.
It is an interesting dichotomy given that facts and truth aren’t working in political discourse, but it is perhaps the element of people’s lives that should be most filled with truth and data.
Politicians essentially need to catch up with businesses in realizing that it is not necessarily about what the data shows, but instead about how it is presented and understood. We are currently at a crossroads, with some saying that we live in a post-factual society, whilst the wealth of data we have around us suggests otherwise and it now needs to be the responsibility of those in power to make sure the data is presented effectively and without spin, otherwise we will continue to see confused and frustrating results, from confused and frustrated voters.