Are You Fooling Yourself?

by Colin Berkshire

I love statistics. Good statistics are a path to the truth. The truth helps you solve problems and make good decisions.

I am always surprised by how often (poor) decisions are made because of emotion rather than the facts. We make bad decisions that are wasteful and that even hurt our customers. Somehow, the truth isn’t a trump card over a politically correct heartfelt story.

Let me back this up with some statistics:

We spend $2,700 a year per death on breast cancer research, more than any other type of cancer. Breast cancer isn’t especially fatal (about 20%) compared to other cancers.

Men aren’t completely innocent either. Prostate cancer gets $1,600 per death in funding—not quite the bountiful level of breasts—but still quite disproportionate compared with the kidney cancer problem.

For the rather unglamorous kidney cancer we spend a mere $284 per death. Wouldn’t breast cancer money be better spent working on Kidney cancer when you look at cost per death? What is our obsession with breasts?

And, how about lung cancer? We spend $52 million a year researching lung cancer. Excuse me, but I think we know what causes lung cancer: Smoking. How about we just ban the sale of cigarettes? (Phase it in: Every year you need to be one year older to buy cigarettes. Or properly tax it: If you funded all lung cancer hospital expenses with a cigarette tax you would double the price of cigarettes.)

Sadly, it is impossible to say cut breast cancer research to fund kidneys. And, so it is impossible to put money where it will give us the greatest raise.

Beware of this same defective thinking at work. It can happen anywhere…in your google adwords budget or in your R&D budget, or perhaps in developing a market overseas.

Oh, and keep a lookout for better answers. You know that $8 Million in research we spend on cervical cancer? I have a surprise for you: Get a vaccination which is readily available and this cancer can be largely prevented. And, if you do get it go to a medically reputable country like Thailand where they treat it with Vitamin C and Folic Acid with over a 92% success rate if it is caught early enough. My wife had it…and she was cured of it without the US doctor recommendation of cutting her guts out.

(I asked the facility in Thailand why they don’t treat cervical cancer in the US the same as in Thailand? The answer: Who is going to pay to research Vitamin-C? And, what will the researchers do when they discover such a simple cure?)

Sicko thinking happens when you don’t watch your numbers.

So learn to ask for numbers. They will guide you. They are your friend.