With today’s technology, it is becoming easier to collect and analyze huge amounts of data. This ability is changing the way we make decisions, but is it becoming a magic tool for predicting the future? That’s the question posed in a recent post on radar.oreilly.com.

Having more data to analyze can lead us down some pretty strange paths. Examples provided in the blog post are the correlations between nutrition with crime rates and childhood trauma with obesity. It seems that we can engineer data correlations to fit any outcome we want. The question becomes, can data correlations drive better decision-making?

Consider one big data operation that most of us perform daily – a Google search. How many times do we type in a partial phrase and see search results that have absolutely no relationship to the answer or result we are looking for? When it comes to important decisions, do you want to roll the dice and hope that you are drawing the right conclusions by crunching vast amounts of data?

One major criticism cited in the blog post is that using collected data to drive a decision only draws on past events and experiences. Thinking outside the box, innovating, and being creative can’t be predicated on past results. While big data will inexorably encroach on our daily decision-making process, it is important to keep in mind that it may not be the most accurate or optimal predictor of the future. As Mark Twain once wryly noted, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”