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Goodhart's Law

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To simplify the world enough that it can be captured with numbers means throwing away a lot of detail.

This article by Hannah Fry in th New Yorker is a fascinating look at the limitations of data.

The devil is in the details.

Numbers are sterile. There is little color and taste. Context is removed.

After all, there is Goodhart’s Law.

The law states when a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.

The law leads to unintended consequences or when an attempted solution to a problem, makes the problem even worse. This is often known as the cobra effect.

For example:

The capital of Colombia, Bogotá, tried to reduce traffic congestion by restricting each car from driving one day during the week. The result: people started buying more than 1 car and did more driving on weekends, thus increasing traffic.

The problem is incentives work too well. Humans are terrific at manipulation.

Remember, numbers never tell you the whole story.