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Ants Death Spiral and Misinformation

10 Apr 2020

Ants shows an interesting behaviour known as Ant mill or death spiral in which they start circling themselves to death. Everything started with one ant that get lost from the main trail. It leaves a pheromone trail to signal others to follow in search of food. However, since it has lost track, the chain of ants get broken. A beautiful system start working against itself and get corrupted. Ants are blind and they find the chain using the pheromone chemical. When this phenomenon happens, all their attempts rendered fruitless.

The exact same thing happens in data visualization and analytics. By trusting a source blindly we go down a chain of misinformation that can render all our attempt useless. Even worse, it can misguide the consumers of our analysis and render all their efforts fruitless too. We should not get stuck in echo chamber by blindly accepting what others say because we share the same beliefs with them. We should seek the facts and be blind to everything else.

Although, this is simpler said than done. All our opinions are subjective and formed through our senses. That's why I believe every data analytics person should view the world from the perspective of epistemology. We cannot find the truth of every little statements, but we can aim for it.

Mahdi Mamouri - Principle Machine Learning Engineer of Mahdi & Co

Mahdi Mamouri

In love with building businesses around digital story telling, data mining, and data analytics.