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Can Data Be Evil?

by Dashboard Insight, Dashboard InsightMonday, January 6, 2014

An interesting article recently published in the New York Times discusses whether or not data can be evil. While raw data ultimately is neither good nor evil, it is how the data is used an presented that causes it to fall into such camps. Check out some of the article below:

"Some knowledge about hypothermia comes from brutal Nazi medical experiments conducted on prisoners of war. Considering the data came from the destruction of others’ lives, are there ethical issues when modern-day scientists use it? Could it be considered a form of collaboration with the Nazis? Or does the origin of the data matter if the data is useful? Declaring the data off-limits could lead to preventable deaths, while using the data seems coldheartedly clinical." - Isaac Mayer, San Diego

There are many volatile questions embedded here (including the scientific validity of the Nazis’ experiments, which many researchers have cast doubt upon). But — assuming the data is accurate — I’ll answer the easiest question first: You ask, “Does the origin of the data matter if the data is useful?”

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