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Welcome to this course on data literacy! First things first, let’s answer a crucial question: Why is data literacy important? In other words, why should anyone aim to be data literate?

There are a lot of good answers! In this lesson, we’ll see how data literacy helped 19th-century doctors end cholera epidemics and discover the root cause of the disease. We’ll explore how it has helped reveal discrimination in hard-to-measure settings like hiring practices, and advance medical knowledge by improving clinical trial data quality.

Data literacy also helps us to produce readable work for other people. As we’ll see, even when good data is there, the inability to tell a clear story can have dire consequences.

It’s no secret that data is an incredibly powerful tool. With all that at stake, it’s also not a surprise that understanding a data-driven conclusion can feel overwhelming sometimes – both as an audience member and as an analyst. No matter which side we find ourselves on, data literacy is about how well we read, interpret, and communicate with data.

Let’s dive in with some case studies about data literacy triumphs and failures.

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