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The Forum > General Discussion > Is "Decision Making" based upon Data, Information or Knowledge?

Is "Decision Making" based upon Data, Information or Knowledge?

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I always understood “Data” to be everything about anything that humans have collected, stored or is otherwise accessible by us.
“Information” is selective Data that has been distilled upwards that has context and relevance to a particular subject, i.e. a construct of Data.
“Knowledge” is applied Information that forms the basis for decisions, conclusions and actions.

The “sand box” analogy may work to determine where and how we reach conclusions and establish our belief systems?

Sand represents Data, the huge mass of fine grains depicting data in all its forms and from all sources.

The sand box represents Information, where constructs (sandcastles) are created from related sand (raw data). Everything from basic sand castles to the complex and elaborate.

Knowledge applies outside the sand box because it is a place where things “happen”.

Scientists collect raw data, research the validity of the data and go to the sand box to form a hypothesis, then take the “construct” to the “doing” world and subject it to proof and repeatability. Arts constructs are music, poetry Etc, etc. The proof is the pleasure created in other humans and the reciprocal pleasure obtained by the creator. Marketing has sandcastles designed to target desires and to influence our decisions in the doing world Proof is determined by sales.

Politics is a selling tool. These sandcastles are quite elaborate and directed at our social, economic, cultural and ecological values. If Theology can be viewed as sales tool it also exists in the sand box as perhaps one of the most ornate and complex constructs, with potential to influence actions in the doing world, mostly for the better. Media influences our own constructs and can “sell” us on adopting someone else’s; it can only exist in the sandbox.

I’m not sure about Philosophy, it exists in the sandbox and has significant influence however, I can’t see it as a construct in itself. Perhaps philosophy is a horizontal rather than vertical domain and thus is an “enabler” in its own right?

Posted by spindoc, Tuesday, 10 February 2009 2:36:00 PM
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Eek mental gymnastics …Well done you.
First aid kit…check
Will …check
Here goes… grunt …Ally oop!

As I read it your problem in logic stems from some of your definitions thus making your analogy seem incomplete.
With your indulgence I’ll start with the analogy and explain as I go.

I would suggest the sand box and contents represent the sum total of Human observation/experience.
The sand represents raw Data rightly inferred as useless without context (my favourite hobby horse on OLO)
Information is simple lumps of sand that has been defined (properties)
Knowledge is understanding of the information’s properties in context in a specific application.
Philosophy is the theoretical possibilities of that knowledge (TOE, GUT are the ultimate of that). The weaknesses of philosophy is that it is limited understanding in that it unable to describe everything that may influence a set circumstance (chaos theory tries but because it relates to abstracts i.e.’ means’ it in builds inaccuracies.)
Religion and politics are attempt to explain GUT and TOE but are inserted between Information and Knowledge.
Therefore decisions may be both good based on knowledge or oppinions based information and thus are questionable.
For dramatic purposes I would suggest a box full of snow flakes (they’re all different and they naturally bond (meld) together to form solids..

What do you think? Rip into it.
Posted by examinator, Wednesday, 11 February 2009 12:37:42 PM
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The decision-making process involves a blend
of thinking, deciding, and acting.
'Information' is the key to this process.

Deliberation, evaluation, and thought must be
brought into play before a final decision is made.
In the generic sense, many decisions are mundane.
However, others are of unmeasured consequence and
could change an organisation's course of action.
Those decisions are probably made after a long
period of review, analysis, and discussion.

One of the characteristics of an effective decision
maker appears to be:

"The ability to distinguish between problems for which
existing procedures are appropriate, and those for which
new ground must be broken. It is ineffective and inefficient
to deal with an exceptional problem as though it were routine,
or a generic problem as though it were an exceptional one."
Posted by Foxy, Wednesday, 11 February 2009 2:48:40 PM
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I can't put the cork back in the bottle on this one now examinator so i'll just have to try to work out what you just said. Firstly, what is TOE and GUT (Grand Unified Theory?)

You seem to roughly accept my original analogy, which does help me however, If GUT/TOE (whatever these are)are between Information and knowledge, does that mean both opinions based Information and Knowledge based decisions are questionable? If so why? is it because an adopted opinion has not been reached by "self" as a process, i.e. no ownership.

If I were to persue the sandbox analogy for just a little longer. To create sandcastles, all of which seem designed to influence others, the sand (raw data) needs some sort of "glue" to hold it together long enough to have that influence. In the physical dimension this is moisture, what could it be in the cognitive domain? Could it be Philosophy?

Foxy,I like your definition of effective decision making. However,
Does this mean that when decisions should be made "for which existing procedures are appropriate", we are not employing experience (knowledge), and conversely, in dealing with an "exceptional problem as though it were routine," does this mean that we apply a sort of "dogma", a one solution fits all?

I know i'm going to struggle with this one but I am really trying to understand what it is that influences such diversity (of decisions and opinions) and dare I say passion, on any and all subjects.

Let me put it another way, If attitudes affect behavior, and society has problems with certain behavior, should we not be able to understand how and where "attititudes" are formed in the first place?

Sounds like I am expecting some sort of compliance with acceptable norms but I don't mean it that way.

examinator, I can't find anything in the first aid kit that helps, I think i've just done a "battered slav" and put my free electrons out of kilter. Is there a better analogy you could suggest?
Posted by spindoc, Wednesday, 11 February 2009 7:16:06 PM
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Dear spindoc,

During the process of making a decision we seek more or
less information depending on our knowledge of the

The more routine the problem, or the more
experience we have had in similiar situations,
the more we rely on existing knowledge.

In new or complex situations we tend to seek more information
in order to understand the problem and deal with it effectively.

Information usually increases our knowledge and may lead to
changes in beliefs, values and attitudes.

More information can reduce uncertainty, clarify the
situation, and make the correct choice more apparent.

Information can be evaluated in terms of its pertinence to
decision making.
Facts, numbers and data are processed to provide meaningful

For example, miscellaneous accounting data provide information when
arrayed in balance sheets and income statements. Ratio analysis
and graphic displays of pertinent relationships provide even
more meaningful information. But if the problem is one of
evaluating the effectiveness of a new advertising campaign,
traditional accounting data, however elaborately processed,
may be meaningless.

Thus, what constitutes 'information' depends on the problem
at hand and the decision maker's frame of reference.
Posted by Foxy, Wednesday, 11 February 2009 9:03:27 PM
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TOE= Theory Of Everything
GUT= Grand Unified Theory
Both * theoretical* prognostications; Both try to explain ‘everything’ without enough specific knowledge (information in its correct context)
e.g. information about the sun allowed for its movements and the relation to the crops etc but in order create an explanation (TOE) they created Gods (religion) i.e. decisions made with out Knowledge to support it.
Only Information, Religion, opinions are questionable in that they require the correct context (that the sun is a star, gravity etc. not supernatural God) to become Knowledge.
As for the issue of needing *glue*, not really. If the right particles of sand are chosen properly and correctly laid they would stand on their own (correct context). To illustrate my point observe Inca masonry no cement (glue) required. Each block is specifically chosen and placed in its correct position and holds there. Therefore knowledge is self supporting in its correct context. (end of analogy).
Therefore conclusions (religion/opinions i.e. beliefs need glue and therefore questionable) based on information alone without the correct context prove nothing.
Could these be Philosophy the answer is yes for the reasons that I’ve never read one that is true in every condition without belief (glue) as they are never absolute.
Pick any philosophy you choose and ask is their logical or reason objections/doubt…? ergo my point.
Clear as mud right?

The first aid kit was incaseI strain my one remaining un corrupted synapse while reasoning this through.
Posted by examinator, Thursday, 12 February 2009 4:23:49 PM
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