Common Sense vs. Data Science in Communications Research and Practice

Undergraduate level, University of Pennsylvania, 2024

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Policy makers, entrepreneurs, and marketers frequently rely on common sense when planning for the future; yet their predictions are often wrong, and their plans fail for reasons that seem obvious after the fact. In this course you will learn about the nature of common sense, when it should be expected to work effectively, and why we are tempted to use it even when we should not. The course will also introduce a data science perspective on explanation, understanding, and decision making, covering topics such as experiments, predictive analytics, forecasting tournaments, scenario planning, and epistemic humility. The course will be conceptual rather than methodological and so is equally appropriate for students with technical and nontechnical backgrounds.