Data is the world’s most potent, flourishing unnatural resource. Accumulated in large part as the byproduct of routine tasks, it is the unsalted, flavorless residue deposited en masse as organizations churn away. Surprise! This heap of refuse is inherently predictive. Thus begins a gold rush to dig up insightful gems.
Does crime increase after a sporting event? Do online daters more consistently rated as attractive receive less interest? Do vegetarians miss fewer flights? Does your e-mail address reveal your intentions?
Yes, yes, yes, and yes!
We’ve entered the golden age of predictive discoveries. A frenzy of number crunching churns out a bonanza of colorful, valuable, and sometimes surprising insights
Predictive analytics’ aim isn’t limited to assessing human hunches by testing relationships that seem to make sense. It goes further, exploring a boundless playing field of possible truths beyond the realms of intuition. And so it drops onto your desk connections that seem to defy logic. As strange, mystifying, or unexpected as they may seem, these discoveries help predict.
Welcome to the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! of data science—the Freakonomics of big data.
Below are nine colorful discoveries, each pertaining to a single predictor variable—from the likes of Walmart, Uber, Harvard, Shell, Microsoft, and Wikipedia.