Tag Archives forconsumer behavior

Data mining on the cheap

This is old skool data mining.

In the UK, the Guardian Newspaper put 700,000 documents of MPs’ expenses online for review. Rather than employing text analysis software, the Guardian is relying on humans to read, decipher, and flag suspicious spending for further review.  As of 5 am (MT) 80% of the documents were reviewed.

Screenshot from Guaridan.co.uk

Nothing like the possibility of salacious or euphemistic mis-classification of dubious expenses to fire up the inquisitive nature of the common man.

I can’t help but wonder what this type of forensic illumination this may bring to the democratic process.  How would MPs or members of Congress spend and behave if they knew the public might scrutinize line by line every reported expense?  Would there be more accountability or would this lead to more creative methods by lobbying firms to buy influence?

Perhaps both.

Over thinking thinking?

To paraphrase Bill Clinton, it depends what the definition of “thinking” is.

An interesting interview on Seed‘s website with the Jonah Lehrer, author of “The Black Box of Decision Making”

Short version of an article worth reading: do we over think important decisions?  The reductive: what is the optimal way to think about important decisions?

It turns out the answer is out is yes, we rely too much on our conscious analytic abilities to make important decisions.  Apparently our conscious brains cannot process huge amounts of data (e.g. the rise and weed proliferation of Twitter).  Thankfully we do have a cerebral processor that can handle huge amounts of data – our unconscious mental processing:  “Research suggests that it’s complex decisions, the ones that involve lots of information, that benefit the most from unconscious emotional processing. The conscious brain can only handle a very limited amount of information at one time?—?seven digits, plus or minus two. Unconsciously, however, you can process tons of information.”

To make matters worse, our self confidence in our conscious analytic capabilities only exacerbate the decisions making process.  By ignoring or diminishing the value of new information, we essentially seal our unconscious brain away from new data to process and synthesize into new insights.

The articles recommendation? Be open to new information, go with your gut, and for heaven sake, don’t over analyze those big decisions.  Your brain has already done it for you.  Just trust it.