Writers often quote studies for apparently proving that ‘Companies that do X are more successful’ or ‘People who do Y are happier’. But the study may have drawn a different conclusion which the writer twisted to fit his story better. Or, the study may have never actually measured X, Y, success, or longevity but something quite different.
'Want a more innovative company? Hire more women'. The title hooked me immediately. I’m an avid follower of the @TEDTalks Twitter page, but I don’t have time to watch every talk. But when I saw one with the title ‘Want a more innovative company? Hire more women’, I wanted to hit play instantly.
16 Dec 2023 | A statement is not fact,Confirmation bias,Data is not evidence,Evidence is not proof
My LinkedIn feed came alive with this post:
Francesca Gino is the Harvard Business School professor accused of faking data in her research. HBS is conducting an investigation into the matter and I am reserving judgement until its outcome; this post is on something completely different. My ...
In 2016, the finance company MSCI released a study claiming that CEO pay bears no link to company performance. It couldn’t have been better timed. That year, soaring CEO pay was controversial on both sides of the Atlantic. The UK government was so concerned that it launched an official inquiry into it (and other aspects of how companies are run).
25 Nov 2023 | A fact is not data,A statement is not fact,Confirmation bias
Last week, Harvard Business Review published an article entitled "Research: How Women Improve Decision-Making on Boards". It was widely shared on LinkedIn and someone tagged me in it, given my research on diversity, equity, and inclusion. When I became Managing Editor of the Review of Finance, I appointed the first women to its board of editors in our 20-year history, so I'd like to believe the findings. However, it's important not to take claims at face value, particularly when ...
Many forms of misinformation have a clear source — authors or journalists misquoting a study, or a famous person giving an extreme quote. That allows us to check the underlying source, as in this example.
In late 2022, a CEO posted this on LinkedIn: ‘Companies that place importance on #ESG factors saw profits rise 9.1% and revenue grow 9.7% over the past 3 years’. Having written a book on the value of ESG, I was intrigued.
We all know the trick of selectively quoting from a passage, so that you can twist it to support whatever you want. As theologian Don Carson pointed out, “A text without a context is a pretext”. Websites such as Quote Investigator check whether a quote was actually said, and give you the context behind it.