Responsible Data Reflection Stories 7
A collection of real-life examples of the risks that are faced when
using data in advocacy work, along with mitigation strategies to
overcome these challenges.
Quantitative data is the result
of numerous subjective human decisions.
More often than not, it is not the writer that is twisting the numbers but the
numbers themselves twisting up the writer; manipulation of the facts, or of
the reader, is usually not intentional. The exploration of the use and misuse of
numbers is at the base of a large, and growing, body of academic and popular
work on quantitative literacy.–p3, Numbers are Only Human, Brian Root
Understanding and using statistics responsibly in human rights advocacy can be
incredibly difficult. As Brian Root excellently outlines in his article, “Numbers are Only
Human”1, understanding that quantitative data is the result of numerous subjective
human decisions, can make a big difference to how an organisation chooses to use
certain statistics to support their work.
One concrete example of how difficult these decisions can be, though, can be seen if
we look at data on killings due to the ongoing Syrian conflict.