While there is and probably ever will be only one J.S. Bach, the geodemographer lives in a similar intellectual ambiance, faced with the unraveling of complex overlapping observations in order to illuminate the chain of causation or etiology underlying a particular phenomenon. Measures of social, economic, political, epidemiological and physical phenomena are acquired by the observational scientist second hand, wherever and whenever they are available, even if they are doubtfully appropriate.
Thus, in particular where aggregate data are concerned, considerable ingenuity must be exercised to untangle multidimensionality (euphonious fugal subjects) and to avoid collinearity (forbidden parallel fifths). Like a composer of canonical melodies, the researcher's predictive variables must not be too specific (idiosyncratic measures of unique events), but also not too general (bland measures of average tendencies) in order to avoid the pitfalls of fallacious, improper or weak inference. Unlike the experimental scientist who manufactures his own orderly and simple circumstances to test the validity of his hypotheses, the observational scientist must attempt to observe and model without bias a reality of quasi infinite covariations using interrelated "facts" which can mislead if not treated with critical and insightful analysis and reduced to their fundamental dimensions.
Census data are a vast and fascinating resource for observational studies and predictive models which can yield much practical benefit to marketers, developers, government program planners and administrators, demographers and social, economic, political and epidemiological scientists. If the researcher or analyst using them even remotely applies the kind of capability of handling complexity and multidimensionality that Bach demonstrated with his incredible music, the results can be valid, reproducible, predictive, insightful, meaningful and robust - in essence, beautiful results which are reliable, practical and valuable to the end user!
This is Ricercar's charter - the achievement
of beautiful results in the development and application of value-added
data products, models, analytical systems and research services using secondary
information sources to predict and explain the outcomes of sales efforts,
store site locations, real property developments, election campaigns for
candidates or initiatives, territory delineations or any other targetable
local, metropolitan, regional or national promotional action.