Reading recommendation: Everydata

Looking for something to read? Are you seeking to brush up on data literacy basics?

Everydata: The Misinformation Hidden in the Little Data You Consume Everyday by John H. Johnson and Mike Gluck is a nice introduction to developing critical thinking skills for data. It is full of bite-sized examples from everyday life, as Fast Company‘s review points out. At the end of each chapter, there is a handful of tips on how to apply the topics in the chapter.

For example, Johnson and Gluck shed light on self-reported data:

How many times did you eat junk food last week?

How much TV did you watch last month?

How fast were you really driving?

When you ask people for information about themselves, you run the risk of getting flawed data. People aren’t always honest. We have all sorts of biases. Our memories are far from perfect. With self-reported data, you’re assuming that “8” on a scale of 1 to 10 is the same for all people (it’s not). And you’re counting on people to have an objective understanding of their behavior (they don’t). (p. 20-1)

Johnson and Gluck acknowledge that “[s]elf-reported data isn’t always bad…. It’s just one more thing to watch out for, if you’re going to be a smart consumer of data.” This salient point is easy to keep in mind when looking at sources with students, reading the newspaper, browsing the web, listening to the radio on the way home from work, etc.

Everydata isn’t about the math; it’s about understanding the data and numbers that you encounter. Take a look at it for more practical tips like that one!


Source: Johnson, John H., and Mike Gluck. Everydata: The Misinformation Hidden in the Little Data You Consume Every DayBrookline, MA: Bibliomotion, 2016.

Image: “Photo 45717” by Dom J, on Pexels. CC0 License.