Data and Perspective

Data and Perspective

When I was a kid, I was told a story about elephant and blind men.

Six blind men were asked to observe an object that they had no idea about. They chose one leader to listen and make conclusion, while the other 5, observing the object in different position. The leader asked, ‘What is an elephant like?’ and they began to touch the object. One of them said: ‘It is like a pillar.’ This blind man had only touched its leg. Another man said, ‘The elephant is like a fan.’ This person had only touched its ears. The third man said, ‘No, it’s a wall.’ This man touch the belly. The fourth who touched the trunk said, ‘ No way, it is round and sharp, it must be a spear.’ The last man said, ‘Yes it is round, but too smooth for a spear, and it keeps moving. It must be a snake.’ This last man only touched the tail.

The leader was confused. None of the information matched one to another. Thus, he failed to make a conclusion.

The story above tells us how the same data when it is seen from different perspectives might be interpreted differently. None of the men were lying, but none of them were telling the truth either. They were right in their own little observation.

In the real world, that case is not happening to the blind men only. Data representation might lead misinterpretation to anyone.

Img src: Reddit

Read more