Applying the Scientific Method to Data Science

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smby Angela Guess

Bob Hayes recently wrote in Customer Think, “Despite the idea that Big Data will kill the need for theory and the scientific method, the human element is necessarily involved in the generation, collection and interpretation of data. Consider the overestimation that Google Flu Trends made regarding flu rates in 2012. More data will not magically give you better answers. The application of the scientific method helps us be honest with ourselves and minimizes the chances of us arriving at the wrong conclusion. The scientific method plays a critical role in understanding any data, irrespective of their size or speed or variety.”

Hayes goes on, “As Carl Sagan said, ‘Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.’ The scientific method is a way to help us understand how the world really works. To be of real, long-term value to business, analytics needs to be about understanding the causal links among the variables. Through trial and error, the scientific method helps shed light on identifying the reasons why variables are related to each other and the underlying processes that drive the observed relationships.”

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photo credit: Business Over Broadway

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