Watch your step on the data ladder

Climbing the data ladder can be dangerous.

That was one of the messages delivered Thursday June 5 at the annual conference of Investigative Reporters and Editors in Miami.
David Donald of IRE/NICAR and Jennifer LaFleur of the Dallas Morning News took a captivated audience on a metaphorical journey through different types of data and statistical analysis. They showed how the amount of risk increases as one moves from analyzing simple, “categorial data” such as a yes/no field or a table of the number of people of different races,  to more complex “continuous data” such as all of the individual incomes of people who applied for a mortgage.

Donald and LaFleur offered strategies for mitigating the risks and maximizing the story using statistics. We’ll post the handout from the session here soon.

The session was one of more than 20 panels and presentations on CAR on day 1 of the conference Thursday. Friday will see hundreds more delegates arrive for the main conference sessions, including a keynote by syndicated columnist Dave Barry.