Archive for the ‘Truth’ Category

Constant repetition doesn’t make it true

February 25, 2008

Constant repetition of a claim may cause people to believe it, but repetition doesn’t make it true.

Unspun by Brooks Jackson and Kathleen Hall Jamieson

Unless people know what the truth is, it’s unlikely they’ll make the right decision

December 7, 2007

“Unless people know what the truth is, it’s unlikely they’ll make the right decision.” [Wisdom of Crowds by James Suroweicki]

If employees see problems and keep it to themselves, it leaves an organization without knowing the truth, and thus unlikely to make the right decisions and stunts organizational learning. For example:

“Those nurses whom doctors and administrators saw as most talented unwittingly caused the same mistakes to happen over and over. These “ideal” nurses quietly adjust to inadequate materials without complaint, silently correct others’ mistakes without confronting error-makers, create the impression that they never fail, and find ways to quietly do the job without questioning flawed practices. These nurses get sterling evaluations, but their silence and ability to disguise and work around problems undermine organizational learning. Rather than these smart silent types, hospitals would serve patients better if they brought in noisy types instead.”

Hard Facts by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton

The last thing to be discovered in any science is what the science is really about

November 27, 2007

Mathematician studied for centuries the abstract problem of drawing tangents to curves before Newton finally discovered what the subject really is about — rate of change.

It is a well-founded historical generalization that the last thing to be discovered in any science is what the science is really about.

Men go on groping for centuries, guided merely by a dim instinct and a puzzled curiosity, till at last some great truth is loosened.

An Introduction to Mathematics by Alfred North Whitehead

Be wary of “dangling comparatives”

August 28, 2007

“Larger, Better, Faster, Better-Tasting.  Advertisers frequently employ such terms in an effort to make their product stand out from the crowd.  In a recent ad, makers of New Ban Intensely Fresh Formula deodorant claimed it ‘keeps you fresher longer.’   One might be forgiven for thinking they meant it keeps you fresher, longer than the competition.  But, as a competitor complained to the Better Business Bureau’s National Advertising Division, they meant fresher than Ban’s old formulation. ”

“A dangling comparative occurs when any term meant to compare two things — a word such as ‘higher,’ ‘better,’ faster,’ ‘more’ — is left dangling without stating what’s being compared.”

“When you hear a dangling comparative term such as ‘more’ or ‘higher,’ always ask, ‘Compared to what?’  The answer may surprise you — and keep you from being fooled.”

unSpun, finding facts in a world of disinformation by Brooks Jackson and Kathleen Hall Jamieson

The imagination of nature is far, far greater than the imagination of man

August 27, 2007

“The imagination of nature is far, far greater than the imagination of man … If you look closely enough at anything, you will see that there is nothing more exciting than the truth … No matter what you look at, if you look closely enough, you are involved in the entire universe.”

The Meaning Of It All by Richard Feynman