We live in the Information Age where information is erroneously regarded as knowledge. Since information is wrongly assumed as knowledge, it therefore follows that having more information about a certain problem is assumed to give one the means or powers to solve it. This prevailing assumption is embedded in Zuraidah's statement "The answer to that is again more data, not less."
Does having more information about a certain problem necessarily lead to the means to solve it? This statement can only be true if we are talking about meaningful information, because useless data and information would lead us nowhere.
The eminent Malaysian philosopher, Tan Sri Prof Dr Syed Muhammad Naquib Al-Attas, has clarified the difference between knowledge and information. Knowledge is related to meaning, whereas information is what he defines as the 'object of knowledge'. As the object of knowledge, information therefore needs interpretation by the mind before it is considered to be meaningful. As such, knowledge and information are not one and the same. Additionally, information is only made useful in minds prepared to receive it and render it meaningful. Which is why Prof. Al-Attas defines knowledge as the arrival of meaning to the soul, and the soul's arrival at meaning. If the soul is unprepared to arrive at meaning, it would not be able to attain knowledge.
To illustrate this point on information, perhaps we can imagine a bed-ridden patient stricken with some unknown disease. Having information about the number of friends he has or the type of clothes he wears at home would not be meaningful at all if our objective is to know more about the nature of the unknown disease. At the same time, even if we do furnish information that we assume to be meaningful or useful to us, it does not necessarily mean that it is also useful to others. In other cases, it may also be detrimental as well. For instance, the information that integrating 2x would yield the square of x may be meaningful to a student who is trained in Calculus, yet it is useless and meaningless to a three year old, simply because the mind of a three year old is unprepared to interpret such information.
To elucidate this point further, we have the following example taken from a secondary school mathematics question under the category 'Statistical Misconceptions':
When statistics which indicate that Malays are not as academically successful as their Indian and Chinese counterparts are released to the public, the public would not have the intellectual ability to interpret them in the sense that there exists some underlying socio-economic factors unique to the Malay community which lead to such results. Instead, the public, being the public, would come to the simplistic conclusion that 'Malays are stupider than the Indian and the Chinese'. Therefore, in this case, more data would introduce and reinforce stereotypes; they create more problems instead of solving them.
In conclusion, information is not value-free. It is laden with certain assumptions that the general public would not be capable of discerning and interpreting correctly.
There is a fundamental difference between disclosing useful information, and washing dirty linen publicly.