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Good Data is a force for good.

The United Nations has declared that today is the first world statistics day, "celebrating the many contributions and achievements of official statistics".

It's the kind of holiday that those of us in the data wrangling profession can really get behind.

Data about people in general, and their well being, their needs and challenges is a critical component of any plan for progress- and the UN focusing on "official statistics" highlights the huge good that this data does in our world.

Governments, educators, charities, and communities can use official statistics to best direct aid, tailor programs to be as efficient as possible, and dramatically improve the lives of billions of people.

Citizens can use data to demand change from their governments, and businesses. They can use data to make informed decisions about which products to buy, understanding their health, environmental and economic impact.

Don't take all that data for granted.

I am fortunate to be living in Canada, a wealthy country that provides a broad range of services to its citizens, and I know that my family and I benefit every day from decisions and policies that have been put in place thanks to decisions informed by a broad range of statistical information. One of the key sources is the census.

Unfortunately, this summer, the Canadian government decided to eliminate the mandatory long form census in Canada (there is still a shorter one), and there has been a strong outcry of disagreement. The chief statistician of statistics Canada resigned in August, but the government seems determined to eliminate this important source of data.

Our little drama in Canada is of course a tiny issue compared to the tragic state of affairs in many countries. Obviously, in many countries the lack of data is a symptom for much more fundamental issues. But collecting and acting on statistical data to help your populace is an indicator of good governance, and encouraging statistics collection is a positive way to support change.

So on this world statistics day, I encourage everyone that loves data, facts, and decisions made using them, to consider that the anti-data forces of evil are still alive and well. Fight those who want to "go with their gut", or worse those who know that data will expose their actions as contrary to the common good.

Good decisions are made based on good data. Good data does good.

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