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Data belongs to everyone, professor of practice Pekka Sauri, University of Helsinki

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Users Conference 30.9.2019, Statistics Finland

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Data belongs to everyone, professor of practice Pekka Sauri, University of Helsinki

  1. 1. DATA BELONGS TO EVERYONE Statistics Finland's Figures for tomorrow seminar Helsinki, 30/09/2019 Pekka Sauri Professor of Practice, University of Helsinki
  2. 2. COMMUNICATION REVOLUTION 1 Almost every citizen has all the data published in the world in their pocket The data monopoly has broken down: the gap between public administration and citizens has closed
  3. 3. COMMUNICATION REVOLUTION 2 Almost every citizen has a powerful mass medium in their pocket Communication has been freed from advance censorship Everyone can be the editor-in-chief of their own media
  4. 4. THE WORLD IS A COMMUNICATION PROCESS • New communication tools (social media) have opened the world to multilateral, bidirectional, real time interaction.
  5. 5. THE DEMOCRATIC CYCLE Citizens ”experience” Decisions Political programmes Detailed ”facts” -> preparation of decisions Voters Election result Master plan Budget Strategy Operational objectives
  6. 6. DELIBERATIVE DEMOCRACY AND THE BEST ARGUMENT PRINCIPLE  Jürgen Habermas: In an ideal speech situation, the best presented argument leads to a consensus after weaker arguments lose  Criticism: There is no ideal speech situation - the time available before deciding is limited, the discussion is not carried out with equal terms, the participants have different resources for carrying out the discussion…  Counter question: What is the alternative to the best argument principle in a world of freedom of expression and equality?
  7. 7. FACTS VS. VALUES IN DECISION- MAKING  Preparation "non-political" (based on facts), decision- making "political" (based on values)  The mayor model (Tampere, Pirkkala, Helsinki): difference between "non-political' and 'political' clarified - the town managers are office holders, the mayors are politicians - the term is the council term  Politicians should not interfere with preparation - preparation should be based on the best possible information base
  8. 8. SO… BUT WHAT IS THE REALITY?
  9. 9. 'THIS IS HOW THESE THINGS ARE EXPERIENCED," - PARTY SECRETARY RIIKKA SLUNGA-POUTSALO, IS 1.8.2015
  10. 10. INFORMATION AND FEELING, FACTS AND EXPERIENCE  It may well be that 'this is how these things are experienced’ - but shouldn’t the person making the decision check the facts on which the experience is based and rectify them if they are incorrect?  See public perceptions of the proportion of the Muslim population in different countries (next)
  11. 11. THINGS ARE BETTER THAN YOU THINK Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund: Factfulness - things are better than you think. Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think Otava 2018. (Finnish version)
  12. 12. WOMEN’S SCHOOLING www.gapminder.org/teach Version: 1Free teaching material for a fact-based worldview 3 years 5 years 7 years AA AB AC Women’s schooling Women aged 30 spent how many years in school? (Men of same age spent 8 years) ANSWERS
  13. 13. What percentage of adults in the world today are literate — can read and write? — ANSWERS 80% 60% 40% A Q3.1 www.gapminder.org/teach Version: 5Free teaching material for a fact-based worldview A AB AC TEST QUESTION 4: WORLD LITERACY
  14. 14. Q7.1 www.gapminder.org/teach Version: 1Free teaching material for a fact-based worldview AA AB AC TEST QUESTION 7: EXTREME POVERTY RATE TREND Almost doubled Remained more or less the same Almost halved Extreme Poverty Rate Trend — ANSWERS In the last 20 years the proportion of the World population living in extreme poverty has...
  15. 15. WORLD OF FACTS...  "We are subjected to never-ending cascades of negative news from across the world: wars, famines, natural disasters, political mistakes, corruption, budget cuts, disease, mass layoffs, acts of terror.  Journalists who reported flights that didn’t crash or crops that didn’t fail would quickly lose their jobs.  Stories about gradual improvements rarely make the front page even when they occur on a dramatic scale and impact millions of people.” - Factfulness, p. 66
  16. 16. FAKTAT JA POLITIIKKA (FACTS AND POLITICS) Matti Wiberg (toim.) (2017): Faktat ja politiikka (Facts and politics). Kunnallisalan kehittämissäätiön julkaisu 7.
  17. 17. - The basic principle of advising on evidence-based decision-making is that the advisor advises but the decision-maker decides. There are, you see, several other viewpoints next to researched information that may have more impact in the politician’s mind:  Agreements made ("it is not mentioned in the government programme")  Financial conditions ("Finland cannot afford it")  Values and ideologies ("It is a threat to the welfare state")  The precautionary principle ("It has not been proven safe")  Opinion polls ("It is against the people’s will")  Citing authority ("I know better")  National inferiority complex ("Sweden does it this way") - Chancellor emeritus Kari Raivio, Faktat ja politiikka, p. 2
  18. 18. THE REALITY OF POLITICAL INFORMATION 1. A citizen that is interested in politics seeks data sources that confirm their preconceptions 2. When facing information that contradicts their preconceptions the citizen abandons the new information and sticks to what they knew before 3. Resistance to contradictory information is the stronger the more active and aware a follower of politics the citizen is - Lauri Rapeli, Faktat ja politiikka, p. 14
  19. 19. A STRONG BELIEF TRUMPS FACTS  When Sarah Palin claimed on the radio that the aim of President Obama's health-care reform was to create "death panels” where senior officials would decide which of the patients would die and which would live, 30% of Americans believed the claim - around one-half of republicans.  After two and a half years as many Americans still believed this claim. - Lauri Rapeli, Faktat ja politiikka, p. 16
  20. 20. THE CHALLENGE OF THE PREPARING PERSON How can I present the information on which preparation is based in such a form that the decision-maker (1) understands it, and (2) can present it to their voters plausibly?
  21. 21. THE CHALLENGE OF THE DECISION MAKER (1) How do I absorb the information on which preparation is based and the related concepts and terminology so that I can maintain a credible connection with voters? (2) How can I justify detailed decisions with the strategic policies made by the representative decision-making body?
  22. 22. HOW ARE CITIZENS "HEARD” AND WHO ARE HEARD? Eeva Luhtakallio and Maria Mustranta: Demokratia suomalaisessa lähiössä (Into 2017) (Democracy in the Finnish suburb)  "Current urban activism: For example, Helsinki increasingly has neighbourhoods where “things are happening” and with “hustle and bustle” and, thus, people who actively participate in many types of civic activity without bowing down to old structures. This group of people organise village fêtes, streets festivals, bicycle parades and pop up activities."  "Things are planned, people network and mobilize on social media. The high level of education among city dwellers is an important underlying factor: there is a wide range of know-how but above all trust in one’s own strengths and influence.” (pp. 118-119)
  23. 23. THE PROBLEM OF BEING LEFT OUT 1  "But at the same time as the networked activist browses through a dozen municipal councillors’ contact information on their mobile in order to take their issue forward there is, on the other hand, a group of people who does not protest or participate in associations nor do they arrange trendy street festivals." (Luhtakallio and Mustranta, p. 118)
  24. 24. THE PROBLEM OF BEING LEFT OUT 2 "They see their possibilities to have a say in society and even belonging to it as non- existent. These two attitudes are materialised class positions which people usually have a hard time to recognise as such if not impossible regardless of which side of the coin they are on.” (Luhtakallio and Mustranta, p. 118)
  25. 25. WHY DOES THE BEST ARGUMENT PRINCIPLE NOT MATERIALISE?  Citizens are not interested in strategic decisions but are only activated once the detailed decisions made based on strategy become concrete.  The strategy tends to get buried under controversial detailed decisions.  The decision is finalised already in the committee stage and changing it in the cabinet or council stage is difficult.  Possible policy trades  Practical constraints: the time for debate runs out and the issue is settled by a vote, i.e. based on political power relations.
  26. 26. SO, WHAT TO DO?  Trust in decision-makers and ultimately in the democratic system is built on open interaction.  If decision-makers only participate in the debate when the strategic decisions become topical, it is too late to build trust.  Decision-makers must be involved in civil debate all the time and introduce facts to the debate that hopefully will replace unjustified beliefs.
  27. 27. THANK YOU. ANY QUESTIONS, COMMENTS? pekka.sauri@helsinki.fi Twitter: @pekkasauri

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