Anyone who can read can read a Keats sonnet, but not everyone can “see” the lyrical quality, and feel the passionate introspection most have at their core. Those who can are truly literate in English poetry.

Data Literacy, a term I like, similarly implies not just an analytical capability, but also an intuitive capacity to understand the nuances and hidden gems in data, rather than just the capability to be informed by apparent outcomes.

Have you ever seen people making stupid decisions while pointing out that the data justified them?

I see it all the time. It seems to me that there should be a knowledge building chain here, rather than just a data analytical one:

    1. Gather data,
    2. Analyse data,
    3. Apply healthy skepticism to the outcomes,
    4. Gather more, preferably counter intuitive data,
    5. Pursue the trends, outliers, inconsistent data, apply informed analytics rather than statistics,
    6. Synthesis of the complex, often paradoxical information,
    7. Informed intuition, and data literacy evolves.

Not all numbers are equal, some are more reliable and informative than others, simply because they are the result of tested assumptions, and more and better informed questioning. The development of literacy takes time, effort, and resources, but is worth it.