Wednesday, February 21, 2007


This is an interesting but hardly new finding. It shows that humans see patterns in data whether or not the patterns are there -- in this case zodiac signs related to human illness. Spurious correlations are a constant in science and in life. It is difficult to stand back and assess data using common sense, especially when one wants an answer.

In PR we explain issues and events constantly to target audiences. It is easy to act like parrots and frame answers according to what clients think they are. It is more difficult to challenge a client's explanation and to look more deeply. But, it seems to me, that is what we should be doing. We are not just presenters of information, although many think so.

One of the best mentors I had in the PR business was a man who was never satisfied with a first, second or even, third answer. He wanted accuracy, and he would push me until he got it. It was sometimes frustrating working for him, but he taught me to be careful. He taught me the lesson that this study is about.


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