Better Information for Building a Wealthier, More Sustainable Future
264 pp., 6 x 9 in, 46 b&w illus., 2 tables
- Published: September 1, 2017
- Published: August 26, 2016
- Published: August 19, 2016
How better information and better access to it improves the quality of our decisions and makes for a more vibrant participatory society.
Information is power. It drives commerce, protects nations, and forms the backbone of systems that range from health care to high finance. Yet despite the avalanche of data available in today's information age, neither institutions nor individuals get the information they truly need to make well-informed decisions. Faulty information and sub-optimal decision-making create an imbalance of power that is exaggerated as governments and corporations amass enormous databases on each of us. Who has more power: the government, in possession of uncounted terabytes of data (some of it obtained by cybersnooping), or the ordinary citizen, trying to get in touch with a government agency? In Missed Information, David Sarokin and Jay Schulkin explore information—not information technology, but information itself—as a central part of our lives and institutions. They show that providing better information and better access to it improves the quality of our decisions and makes for a more vibrant participatory society.
Sarokin and Schulkin argue that freely flowing information helps systems run more efficiently and that incomplete information does just the opposite. It's easier to comparison shop for microwave ovens than for doctors or hospitals because of information gaps that hinder the entire health-care system. Better information about such social ills as child labor and pollution can help consumers support more sustainable products. The authors examine the opacity of corporate annual reports, the impenetrability of government secrets, and emerging techniques of “information foraging.” The information imbalance of power can be reconfigured, they argue, with greater and more meaningful transparency from government and corporations.
Missed Information highlights the challenges in providing more complete and accurate information for making careful decisions while suggesting guidelines for improving the process. The examples range from the challenges we face in getting relevant data on health insurance and the quality of doctors to the well-designed annual requirements for companies to report their use of toxic chemicals. David Sarokin and Jay Schulkin provide a unique perspective on the power of information.
Howard Kunreuther, James G. Dinan Professor of Decision Sciences and Public Policy, co-director of Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, co-author of Insurance and Behavioral Economics: Improving Decisions in the Most Misunderstood Industry
Sarokin and Schulkin have written an intriguing book. They discuss the increasing power of information to government agencies, to business, and to the public, using historical information and numerous examples that will be new to most readers. Their provocative proposals for the collection and dissemination of additional information will better inform markets and promote sustainability. This book should be of interest to a wide audience.
Warren R. Muir, former Executive Director, Division on Earth and Life Sciences, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
Sarokin and Schulkin tackle a unique and important question: Why, in an age of previously unimaginable information abundance, do we so often lack the information needed to make good decisions? Thought-provoking and original throughout, the book makes a compelling case for how we can solve our most pressing problems by making use of missed information.
Jason Dana, Assistant Professor of Management and Marketing, Yale School of Management
The environmentalist David Sarokin and the neuroscientist Jay Schulkin offer us a novel perspective on and analysis of the complex spectrum of information and its implications for society today. A remarkable overview of the nature of information and its consequences, this book is sure to be an important guide for those who wish to understand the role of information in our lives and how to manage it most effectively.
Mike Hawrylycz, Investigator, Allen Institute for Brain Science