Nowadays, it seems common practice to attribute a quote to a famous person. This name-dropping supposedly needs to give the quote credibility. People like Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Abraham Lincoln, George Bernard Shaw, and Albert Einstein are some of the usual suspects. For instance, the quote, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” is typically misattributed to Einstein. While misattributions are misleading, they seem pretty harmless as long as a quote isn’t wrongly attributed to oneself.
However, when unsubstantiated studies are presented as scientific facts, these practices tend to lose their innocence. One of those ‘studies’ is remarkably persistent. It is known as the Iceberg of Ignorance or the Iceberg of Awareness. The myth goes like this: A study, supposedly performed by one Sidney Yoshida at Calsonic, a Japanese car manufacturer, described in a scientific paper and presented at an International Quality Symposium in Mexico in 1989, demonstrated that senior leadership (only) has a 4% awareness of problems. The study is often quoted to demonstrate a traditional hierarchy’s disconnect between the top and the bottom.
While appealing, there is no proof that this study has occurred. There is no paper describing the study or record of the presentation at the symposium in Mexico. As a matter of fact, besides the hundreds of mentions, there is no proof the study was ever performed. Others tried to find proof of the study without success.
If there is no proof a study was performed or that some hypothesis led to performing the study, and there is no data to check the findings or to reproduce the data, per definition, it must be considered a myth.
When I suggested the ‘study’ to be a myth, reacting to a post on Linkedin, I received strong opposition from the author. After all, he argued, if everyone is quoting the same study, it must be true. And while it might not be traced back, it supports the general idea.
That seems to be the truth Donald Trump generally supports: if you consistently make a false claim, it must be true.
This post is for those who embrace facts and science.