Linked-In and other pep talks only tell you half the truth.

Many articles on LinkedIn are just disguised pep talks. These LinkedIn articles, and other self help courses, have titles like:

  • 10 ways to become a successful manager.
  • 5 methods to get rich quick.
  • 7 habits of highly successful people

I read "Irrationality, the enemy within" by Stuart Sutherland many years ago. It is such a good book it has been reissued:

In it he tells the story of a doctor who prescribes a new medicine to a patient and the patient gets better. The doctor concludes that the medicine works. The problem is not only was that just a single case, but the doctor has no information on the other 75% of outcomes. The whole 100% is as follows:

  1. I prescribe the medicine and they get better.
  2. I don't prescribe the medicine and they get better (anyway).
  3. I prescribe the medicine and they get worse (anyway).
  4. I don't prescribe the medicine and they get worse.

What the pep talks tell you are point 1 above, and sort of hint at point 4. They leave out information about the outcomes described in points 2 and 3. So at most they tell you 50% of the story. 

And some invented figures:

If the figures above were true then it would be better not to follow the pep-talk advice. But we never get these figures, we only get the success figures. (But consider how many people win olympic medals compared with the number of competitors. I wonder how many losers had the same training as the winners...?).

Here's one by someone who can't spell and does not check his work.


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