by Cynthia Lesky, Illinois Chapter
As an information professional working in business research, I know that the quality of the decisions that our clients make based on our work – and thus our value – depends on the accuracy of the reports we compile. But accuracy is an increasingly elusive goal.
When the pace is fast and the sources are self-serving press releases or blog posts based on “motivated reasoning” or stories on news sites without pedigrees, truth is hard to pin down. Even well-established trade publications and respected newspapers have more than occasional errors of fact.
The ability to discern facts from puffery and accuracy from simple mistakes or outright falsehood is critical. Simply reporting what we find is not enough. Professional skepticism –informed, always on, finely-attuned, even courageous – must govern our data selection and analysis.
Professional skepticism is the disciplined side of our natural curiosity. It’s the critical thinking that weighs one fact against another and leads us to question suspicious assertions – or simply spot that a number expressed in millions is really billions. In other words, professional skepticism is our BS Meter and our Error Radar.
Being FutureReady means helping our clients or employers make evidence-based decisions in the face of an increasingly fragmented and exploitive news landscape. In that world, you can bet that revved up BS Meters and well-maintained Error Radar will be in increasingly high demand.
Cynthia Lesky is a professional skeptic and President of Threshold Information. Threshold works for corporate information centers and business intelligence units to produce custom market intelligence awareness services, research and analysis, and various types of special projects. Learn more at www.threshinfo.com.