Week 3 Response - Critical Data

The interactive map In Flippen’s “Where Are the Hardest Places to Live in the U.S.?” was a compelling way to summarize the data findings made by The Upshot. Being able to explore the country, county by county, while also understanding the national trends by color gradient made the data easily digestible and allowed for closer inspection. 

Although I found the interactive tool compelling, I question the methods used to make their assertions. I appreciated that they shared their methods for ranking the counties, but their explanation of methods made me question the way they calculated the data points and whether the way they evaluated them would actually tell us how hard it is to live in those counties. 

One example of the reasons I doubt their claims is how they defined “disability” and used it as a determining factor in assessing how hard it is to live in a particular county. They define disability solely as “the percentage of the population collecting federal disability benefits but not also collecting Social Security retirement benefits”. I don’t see the correlation between this measure and what they were trying to determine and I certainly would not give it equal weight by averaging it with something like Median Income, Education or Unemployment. What’s more their use of the term “disability” to define this group seems cavalier and thoughtless because it implies that it measures all people with disability and that there is a correlation between numbers of people with disabilities and how hard it might be to live in a county. 

In short, their bad judgement and shortsightedness makes me doubt their claims. 
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