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Olin Business School

Calling bs: Finding Truth in Data

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Numbers don’t take a position—they’re just information for us to interpret. This course helps you develop a healthy skepticism for how data is presented and examines how it’s often purposefully distorted or inadvertently misinterpreted. We will develop a framework for understanding common misinformation around the theme of modern data science. Using real-life examples, we will learn specific tools to understand what questions we should be asking of data in order to spot the lies, damned lies, and statistics (with a little fake news thrown in for good measure.)


  • Develop a framework for critically evaluating data-based claims
  • How data analytics can lead to incorrect conclusions
  • Tools for asking the right questions of data


  • Quickly identify opportunities or risks when presented with new reports, studies, analytics, and techniques
  • Better determine what type of information to extract from data by asking better questions
  • Defend against poor decision making due to misrepresented information


Liberty is currently a Professor of the Practice of Data Science at Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis and a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University. She is a graduate of MIT as well as Le Cordon Blue Paris and the University of Glasgow. Liberty is a regular TV and Radio c...