Tuesday, September 6, 2016

This weekend and Big Data.

This weekend we were supposed to be hit with a "named" storm that was going to wreak havoc on one and all. It was supposed to be the second-coming of Sandy.

New York's consistently inappropriate mayor even banned swimming at city beaches because of what was to be a fearsome, deathly rip-tide.

The weather reports seemed to be going on 'round the clock. They claimed we'd have torrents of rain, coastal flooding--and the exact line I remember--winds of 46-miles-per-hour.


Not 45.

Not 47.


Somehow our scientists were so blessed by data and so astute they no longer had to say "Wind gusts of 40-miles-per-hour or more." Or "Wind in the 40-mile-per-hour-range." No. They had it down to a science.

I am remarking on this not as a screed against meteorologists. But as a warning against Big Data Dogmatists and Science Charlatans.

This will be the next trend that afflicts us in our industry. We'll be told according to data with utter assuredness exactly how we should market, when and to whom.

There will be "fact-like precision" in their proclamations. We will have details down to the nose-hair.

We'll be given if-then propositions down to the mile-per-hour and browbeaten into believing it because, well, because it is based on data. So it must be true.

And then what happened this weekend will happen in the market.

It will be sunny. The skies will be clear. The sea, calm.

As the Romans used to say: "Cave data. Hoc est verum et in parte falsum medium."

Beware data. It is half true and half false.

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