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Your numbers are wrong

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“It’s just that I know those numbers don’t reflect what’s really happening on the ground.”

That’s the most difficult sentence in the world for us.  Because we get it; data aren’t reflective of any one individual experience, specifically because they are an aggregation of what’s happening across a lot of different experiences.  So of course numbers never tell the whole story. 

And.

There’s so much evidence to show that we tend to see what we expected (read: wanted) to see in the first place.  Several great blogs have been written about the need to intentionally look for evidence that contradicts what we think, and conceptually, most of us understand that we are selective about what gets our attention. 

But in the moment, when faced with data that doesn’t match our experience, many of us assume the data are wrong.  We want to deny the data, or worse, hide it away so that no one else can see it.  That’s really a missed opportunity.  The discomfort and dis-ease that come from confronting information that doesn’t match our beliefs is actually a catalyst to move us forward.  It’s an opportunity to see differently, understand differently.

Neil deGrasse Tyson explains this idea well:  “Any time scientists disagree, it’s because we have insufficient data.  Then we can agree on what kind of data to get; we get the data; and the data solves the problem.  Either I’m right, or you’re right, or we’re both right.  And we move on.”

Lynnette CookThoughtwellData