Episode 83: The Observer Effect

Hello and welcome to The Moving Curve. I’m Rukmini, a data journalist based in Chennai. Twice a week on this mini-cast, I consider one question around the novel coronavirus epidemic in India. Tonight I’m considering this one — would things be better if we weren’t paying attention?

The story I did on the National Health Mission’s data is here.

The one I wrote on how adverse public reaction is impacting data and policy in India is here.

So maybe there’s little point left to wondering whether paying less attention to the numbers would lead more states to release them honestly. Maybe what there’s still some hope for, is to pay more attention to the processes that underlie the numbers instead of responding to the numbers alone. If we want better numbers going forward, we’re going to have to think of our own role, inevitably, in altering them.

Thank you for listening. This episode was edited by Anand Krishnamoorthi. Tomorrow — a new question.

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