Thursday, April 3, 2014

True Facts and Made-Up Facts

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.
               --John Adams

John Adams had it right.  But what about facts that are sand castles in someone's mind?

Lately, there's been a series of alarming reports that the NCAA Basketball Tournament, AKA March Madness, would cost American businesses  1.7 Billion dollars in lost productivity!  Other articles of this ilk are more conservative; quoting amounts of lost productivity in the 100-200 million range.

But, where do those numbers come from?  It raises up the bogeyman of thousands, if not millions, of employed minions slipping off, spending time filling out their brackets, reviewing the prospects of the teams, turning into the games, and spending a lot of time around the water cooler in talking about the games, and generally being obsessed about basketball.

There are a number of people who are disposed to be impressed by 'facts' if they have numbers cited as well.  But they are quite credulous when it comes to the source of those numerical 'facts.'

Undoubtedly, some people did their brackets while on company time; and there are occasional checks into the games from time to time; but few are likely to undergo March Madness to such an extent as to stop working.

A disclaimer.   I filled out a bracket.  It took me about a half-hour.  Actually, I tended to prefer more heavily the higher-seeded teams.  I chose only one of the four teams that ultimately made the Final Four (Florida).  So I'm not a heavy hitter in basketball lore, by any means.

And I expect most people aren't.  Anyway, the first weekend had 64 teams, last weekend started with 16 teams, and we're down now to four.  We can expect a corresponding drop off in interest with each successive phase.

Maybe the problem is not as serious as some would see upon first glance.


Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

Every years 'statistics' such as that are trotted out, but with little or no explanation as to where the numbers come from. It's really newspaper or on-line filler material.

MarkD60 said...

Funny, I just met a guy who's job was the statistics for sports.

Isn't "made up facts" and oxymoron?

Anemone said...

I haven't noticed much interest in the tournament around here. Perhaps it's an East Coast thing.

TexWisGirl said...

some mathematical equation used to squeeze out a numerical result that somehow impresses us. :) ah, well...

Grand Crapaud said...

Those numbers are like golf scores or actresses' chest measurements - to be viewed with a little skepticism.

Mike said...

I've read where doing things like brackets at work actually makes people MORE productive in the long run.

Anonymous said...

what is a bracket?? it like a bet/gambling??

Bilbo said...

Facts don't mean much any more, now that people make them up to suit their political, social, and religious agendas. You might enjoy Farhad Manjoo's interesting book published in 2008 titled "True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society." It'll make you cringe.