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The Data Pandemic: Making decisions with too much, not enough, and politicized data

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Date & Time:
September 21, 2020
8:00 am - 9:30 am EDT
Add to Calendar September 21, 2020 8:00 am September 21, 2020 9:30 am America/New_York The Data Pandemic: Making decisions with too much, not enough, and politicized data

Whether it is not enough data or too much data, decision-makers are often tasked with making choices constantly in peril of being deemed incorrect due to new data and varying perspectives. The politicization of data has made this issue ever more acute; its effects are wide ranging and often devastating to both health & well-being and perceived trustworthiness of the decision-maker(s).

We have seen these dynamics play out through HIV/AIDS, with massive amounts of misinformation about the disease that persists 30 years later. We saw them at the height of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, with perpetuated misconceptions and poor decision-making due to lack of reliable data. Now, we are seeing the same dynamics with the debate over preventive behaviors, mask use, and vaccine hesitancy for COVID-19.

The WHO recently coined the term “infodemic”, which refers to an overabundance of information – some accurate and some not – occurring during an epidemic.

In this event, hosted on the occasion of the 75th UN General Assembly, The Rockefeller Foundation-Boston University Commission on Health Determinants, Data, and Decision-making (3-D Commission) hopes to answer the following questions: How do decision-makers move forward with confidence given uncertain volume, poor quality, and politicized data? What are top lessons learned for effective data-driven decision making in epidemics?

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Whether it is not enough data or too much data, decision-makers are often tasked with making choices constantly in peril of being deemed incorrect due to new data and varying perspectives. The politicization of data has made this issue ever more acute; its effects are wide ranging and often devastating to both health & well-being and perceived trustworthiness of the decision-maker(s).

We have seen these dynamics play out through HIV/AIDS, with massive amounts of misinformation about the disease that persists 30 years later. We saw them at the height of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, with perpetuated misconceptions and poor decision-making due to lack of reliable data. Now, we are seeing the same dynamics with the debate over preventive behaviors, mask use, and vaccine hesitancy for COVID-19.

The WHO recently coined the term “infodemic”, which refers to an overabundance of information – some accurate and some not – occurring during an epidemic.

In this event, hosted on the occasion of the 75th UN General Assembly, The Rockefeller Foundation-Boston University Commission on Health Determinants, Data, and Decision-making (3-D Commission) hopes to answer the following questions: How do decision-makers move forward with confidence given uncertain volume, poor quality, and politicized data? What are top lessons learned for effective data-driven decision making in epidemics?

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