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Bad information

Posted by Howard Silcock on 1 July 2010

I just received an email from the Departmental Library in the government department where I work, summarising the results of a survey about the dangers of “bad information” on businesses and organisations. The summary lists a number of “facts” that it says were uncovered (the list is reproduced below) and provides the following link for further information: http://www.dowjones.com/pressroom/SMPRs/BadInfoSurvey1.html. Recognise the name in the URL? Oh, Dow Jones—seems reputable enough, doesn’t it? I can just see people quoting the results as established facts about the problems of gathering and using information.

The trouble is, though, that if you attempt to discover any evidence or methodology behind these “facts”, you soon recognise a few danger signals. Indeed, for anyone interested in information management or related topics, the very reporting of this survey, both in the email I’m quoting and on the web page it links to, seems to me to serve as a remarkable—and presumably unintended—example of how to promulgate bad information. And you can be sure it will be promulgated—taken completely out of context, without even an indication of how the results were arrived at. Read the rest of this entry »

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