Hey @coreym.gentry, I’m glad you took the time to express your viewpoint on the projects you’re seeing here. Like @lisalisaj mentioned, it would be helpful to know which projects in particular you mean and here’s why.
I’m a practicing data engineer at a biotech company and have done work previously for adtech and insurance companies. The specific types of stats you’ve pointed out are generally useful in all of those fields. There’s going to be a good deal of signal in race and gender data across many fields.
For example, you want to target your Spanish TV station at a Spanish speaking population to increase viewership. How can you approach this problem? Well, you might want to begin with a demographic map of a region and use that to help identify where you can place billboards; you might want to find products and websites that Spanish speakers tend to use very frequently and purchase ads on those sites. That will help you to maximize the return on investment for your ad spend.
Another example is that we’re finding out that gender and race have impact on efficacy of drug treatments. This will impact how you design a study to make sure that you have good representation of the population in a clinical trial. As a pharmaceutical company you’re looking to make sure you know who your target patients are. It can help you determine efficacy much more accurately and later on, when it’s time to market, you can help physicians identify the patients that would benefit.
With those examples in mind, I would say that many of the exercises on Codecademy are designed to be “toy” models of the types of real-world data that you would encounter as a professional. Do you have to care about the representation of different races or genders? No, but you absolutely need to be able to work with those types of categorical values and the specific challenges they can give you. I would argue that this is a big driver in the design of the exercises. Additionally there’s the aspect of what data is freely/publicly available – another business side decision that’s really financial in nature but can lead to this type of scenario.
To your point about religion, sometimes that’s going to be a relevant metric you’ll need to work with but it’s less common. It’s probably useful in ad tech (maybe you think there’s a reason to target a specific religious affiliation), political spaces, and other use cases but it’s application is less helpful in other areas. On the data type side, it’s the same as gender and race, so you’ve learned how to work with it.
And now with some level of pedantry the evolution point: you’re calling it a theory which is going to make the proposition of challenging it difficult. The US Academy of the Sciences describes a theory like this:
The formal scientific definition of “theory” is quite different from the everyday meaning of the word. It refers to a comprehensive explanation of some aspect of nature that is supported by a vast body of evidence. Many scientific theories are so well established that no new evidence is likely to alter them substantially. For example, no new evidence will demonstrate that the Earth does not orbit around the sun (heliocentric theory), or that living things are not made of cells (cell theory), that matter is not composed of atoms, or that the surface of the Earth is not divided into solid plates that have moved over geological timescales (the theory of plate tectonics) … One of the most useful properties of scientific theories is that they can be used to make predictions about natural events or phenomena that have not yet been observed.
So it’s important to distinguish between a hypothesis (which is the colloquial definition of theory) and a theory. With that distinction in mind, you’re looking at a PhD’s worth of work to even make a dent in evolution and that’s just way out of scope for these projects.
@8-bit-gaming, to your points on some of the agenda you’re seeing on CC, I’d offer this. The day I learned that representation matters in education, I was showing a video to my physics class at an all girls high school. I forget what I even showed (maybe about the woman whose research led to the first image of a black hole, but possibly something that was inconsequential to me) but the reaction the class had to the video was, honestly, shocking. They were so excited to see a woman doing physics and it visibly made them excited and motivated them so much more to put forth their best effort. I thought I understood representation, but in that moment I learned that I had no clue. Since then I’ve made it a big part of who I am as a professional to be as inclusive as possible because you don’t know who’s life you’ll impact with such a minor change. CC at its core is still an educational site and part of the mission of any educational system is to bring underrepresented groups into the professional world of development.
Happy to hear any responses/feedback and to keep the conversation going.