Friday, May 22, 2009

Better data for better decisions...

Hello to all, today's topic is about the data we use to make decisions...

I don't know why we humans use information the way we do, but I do know that we have very little knowledge about statistics. My idea is not to give an statistics class, but rather give some interesting facts.

The data source: Have you ever stopped to figure out how valid is the data you are considering for your decision? You might think you did, but here is the reality. Unconsciously we tend to choose the data source that better adapts to our already set bias. So what we are really doing is searching for information that CONFIRMS what we think, not necessarily to make a more informed decision.

Example: You have a preconceived concept of something, and one person you ask about it confirms the data. You are very likely to think.. "I was right", but what if you find someone who doesn't agree? We are probably going to look for a tie breaker... See? we believed the first one because he agreed, and did not believe the second one because he didn't.

Another way to put it would be... You hear a particular news that seems hard to believe, a few minutes later another person calls you with the same information, and then a third. After three calls you might say, "if three people, from different places said so, then it is probably true".

The reality here is that you are not considering where the people got the information, it could have been the same source!!!! And also, who says that three people can be considered enough to validate?

In both cases, we may be taking poor decisions just based on the information we obtained.

My advice (Still is only one person giving you this advice, so you might want to validate it!!!), go look for information with your mind open and without preconceptions, otherwise you might see yourself looking for the information that fits you, and leave out the information that suits you.

Hope you give it some thought throughout the weekend!!

Have a good one!

Federico Ruiz

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