As I realized that there was a lack of empirical support for The Graphic, I took the opportunity during a conference break to remark to a speechwriter for one of the politicians who had just used this graphic that they ought to stop using it. To my surprise, she replied, ‘But it illustrates the problem so well’. While I first could not agree that it illustrated anything, I have now come to think that it illustrates how proponents of data sourcing initiatives do not need evidence in support when arguing their case: They can make do with a narrative that merely appears to rest on data and a promise of better evidence in the future. Instead of using displays of data and evidence to make politics and biomedicine accountable, accountability is here directed toward the potential future outcome (a supposedly great project), rather than faithful representation of what is already known.

klaus høyer

Hoeyer, K. (2019). Data as promise: Reconfiguring Danish public health through personalized medicine. Social Studies of Science, 49(4), 531–555.