Early detection of what?

The interest in using pre-diagnostic data for the early detection of disease outbreaks, has evolved in interesting ways in the last 10 years. In the early 2000s, I was involved in an effort to explore the potential of non-traditional data sources, such as over-the-counter pharmacy sales and web searches on medical websites, which might give earlier signs of a disease outbreak than confirmed diagnostic data (lab tests, doctor diagnoses, etc.). The pre-diagnostic data sources that we looked at were not only expected to have an earlier footprint of the outbreak compared to traditional diagnostic data, but they were also collected … Continue reading Early detection of what?

Language and psychological state: explain or predict?

Quite a few of my social science colleagues think that predictive modeling is not a kosher tool for theory building. In our 2011 MISQ paper “Predictive Analytics in Information Systems Research” we argue that predictive modeling has a critical role to play not only in theory testing but also in theory building. How does it work? Here’s an interesting example: The new book The Secret Life of Pronouns by the cognitive psychologist Pennebaker is a fascinating read in many ways. The book describes how analysis of written language can be predictive of psychological state. In particular, the author describes an … Continue reading Language and psychological state: explain or predict?