Abstract: Data Science is a toolkit for using data to answer questions and guide decision making under uncertainty. But this approach to data science is based two assumptions: that it is possible for data to answer questions and resolve debates, and that we make better decisions when they are based on evidence and reason. In a "post truth" world, that stance might seem naive, but in this talk I argue that is it not only still true; it is more true than ever.
I present examples from my research and my classes where data, simple statistical methods, and effective visualization make it possible to inform and influence public debate. And I suggest ways data scientists can use their skills to make positive change in the world.
Bio: Allen Downey is a professor of computer science at Olin College and author of Think Stats, Think Bayes, and several other books about computation and engineering. He writes a blog, called "Probably Overthinking It", about data science and Bayesian statistics.