As many of you know, I spend a lot of time reading articles, blogs, research work, vendor collateral, etc. I mean, I spend a lot of time and any time I see a quantitative statement, such as “13% of the world’s population prefers the color purple”, without a source given I question its validity. Just because it is tweeted, and retweeted doesn’t magically make it a fact.
The other day I saw a tweet that said “90% of IT projects are canceled or delivered late due to increasing IT complexities” – I clicked the link to read the blog/article/research but found nothing of the sort. I then searched the internet to find where this statement was produced and found spotty results. While this statement may be true or at least have a ring of truth, what makes is true or false is the quantitative attached to it, 90%. If it is only 85% or 80% – it nullifies the validity of this statement. And if it is simply a platitude that someone has added conjecture in order to make it a quantitative, it makes it false or at least not as true as the original intent.
I tweeted out yesterday that I had read this quantitative statement in two tweets today but could not verify the source when someone replied saying “83% of statistics are made up on the spot”. Unfortunately, without a source, this is how these statements of facts are treated. I try very hard to make sure I do my research when I blog, author an article, give a presentation, etc. to represent the information as accurately as possible with source references to support my statements and position. As a student I was taught the importance of citing your sources, as an industry analyst, I learned the value of citing your sources. Your credibility depends on it! Please, when you cite a quantitative statement, please back it up with your source. If you cannot back it up, but you feel it is true based on your experience, then please remove the quantitative and add, “from my experience” or “it would seem to me” or “if this is true” – perhaps then someone will respond in kind with the actual source for you but along the way, you will not have potentially damaged your own “street cred”
By the way, 13% of the world’s population prefers the color purple, not the movie, but the color and blue is apparently the most popular favorite across the globe. You can read all about it HERE in the survey by Scott Design or just take a look at this infographic.
Chapa, signing off
2 Comments Add yours
I agree 100%. It is frustrating seeing statements made that are either blatantly inaccurate or mis-interpreted. I would even take this a step further and believe that every statistic should include a link to the source. It is not good enough to say “According to XYZ analyst firm, the world is flat.” Who know if XYZ actually said that and without a link a it is difficult to verify. Sure you can search for the statistic, but why bother? Simply put, if an author is using a statistic he/she should attribute it properly.
Thanks Jay. That is terrific advice!