Cherry Picking Data


Over the weekend, we were met with some fantastic news. PM Modi declared via twitter “I am delighted that every single village of India now has access to electricity.”

While it is a major historic moment, a Bloomberg report estimates that almost 32 million homes are still left in the dark.

This is because, per Scroll, the Government of India needs a village to have only 10% of its households, as well as public places such as schools and health centres, to have access to electricity, for it to be deemed “electrified”. So, while all villages technically have ‘access’ to power, less than 8% of the newly electrified villages had all homes electrified — the data showed — leaving swaths of rural India with ‘zero’ power.

This is an example of cherry picking, where evidence is presented in order to persuade the audience to accept a position, while evidence that would go against the position is withheld. It can also mean we present data in a certain way which is more favourable to creating the impression we want.

This year, for #36daysoftype , we at Reach have talked about lesser known social issues for A-Z. While we believe that this electrification news undoubtedly points towards a brighter future ⚡️😉, we want to spend the remaining days celebrating the presentation and consumption of data that is provided with context and background.

It takes an extraordinary amount of time, effort, discernment, and most importantly, rigour to uncover and collect information, so as to present it in a consumable way — available for scrutiny, peer-review, and in an ideal world — positive changes in policy and the way we behave as a society.

Let us know what you think! If you want to point out any errors, please tell us where it’s wrong, and how it’s wrong, and we’d be happy to change our position! #dialogueafterdata