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The following article analysis review by Team B illustrates and identifies several examples of statistics abuse in the practical world as a result of flawed research. The following examples demonstrate how a manger could and in many examples, does make erroneous decisions due to inaccurate statistics. The team has compiled the results by detailing the respective articles.
In the article, Pentagon Decision Making: seriously flawed, Karen Kwiatkowski witnessed first hand how erroneous and inaccurate information inside the Office of the Secretary of Defense, affected the United States decision to go to war with Iraq. This business decision not only affected the Bush Administration, but also affected the entire country. The article suggests that certain parts of this information made its way into speeches given by President Bush in order to mislead America and gain support for the war in Iraq.
The following themes are identified in the article, (Kwiatkowski, 2003):
1. Functional isolation of the professional corps. Civil service and active-duty military professionals assigned to the USDP/NESA and SP were noticeably uninvolved in key areas of interest to Under Secretary for Policy Douglas Feith, Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and Rumsfeld. These included Israel, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia.
2. Cross-agency cliques: Much has been written about the role of the founding members of the Project for a New American Century, the Center for Security Policy, and the American Enterprise Institute and their new positions in the Bush administration. Certainly, appointees sharing particular viewpoints are expected to congregate, and that an overwhelming number of these appointees have such organizational ties is neither conspiratorial nor unusual. What is unusual is the way this network operates solely with its membership across the various agencies - in particular the State Department, the National Security Council, and the Office of the Vice President.
3. Groupthink. Defined as "reasoning or decision-making by a group, often characterized by uncritical acceptance or conformity to prevailing points of view," groupthink was the predominant characteristic of Pentagon Middle East policy development. The result of groupthink is the elevation of opinion into a kind of accepted "fact," and uncritical acceptance of extremely narrow and isolated points of view.
This article demonstrates how decisions were made based on intuition rather than credible data. The end result was data that was deceptive. It was suggested that the CIA told employees not to work with other security departments; the primary Iraq staff work was done by political appointees that never communicated with the Bush organization and that the groupthink process lead to deceitful information fed to Congress.
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The Article, Reacting to business challenges with speed and positive results discusses, SCQuARE (a mnemonic) a complete process for converting ideas into bulletproof plans and selling them through the organization. This process is achieved by teaching people how to think strategically and communicate clearly. As the New Straits Times states, once adopted, SCQuARE equips individuals with a lifelong skill that ensures that valid ideas are pursued into business propositions confidently, flawed ideas are identified and either reworked or discarded early, and presentation output is credible and easily assimilated so that a decision can be made (Lupar,17).
The benefits of using the SCQuARE method help managers arrive at a decision making process in a quick and accurate way. Too often managers arrive at a conclusion and make quick decisions without evaluating the full process and react to certain data versus the entire picture. In turn, the possible results could be flawed data. With the demand today of organizations, there is a quick demand for solutions, which business planning cannot afford to chance.
The two and a half day course teaches managers correct ways to come to conclusions. Teams compete against each other and learn from each other's mistakes and identify planning and operating decisions that could have wrongly been made. The same thing goes for the communication within each team, and how to clearly communicate messages without having what was heard unidentified or wrongly identified.
Here are the five things learned during the course in order to identify planning and operational decisions:
1. The Need for Structure
2. The Thinking Process
3. Issue Analysis
4. The STORY delivering SCQuARE
5. Authenticating the plan
The article, Stats Online discusses three very notable instances of statistics abuse in the practical world that results in flawed decision by managers. As the article points out, statistics have been used to instill a "False Precision" within people. We saw this concept illustrated in the Pentagon Decision Making: seriously flawed. People are mislead people and to give these statistics can be used to give people false hope or to "inspire confidence" within someone. As we saw in the Pentagon Decision Making this data gave the Busch Administration false hope.
The next example discussed in Stats Online, points out occurrences when statistics are grossly overestimated or "coupled to undefined terms" in that the statistics are so far blown out of proportion that they are almost meaningless. For example if flawed statistics are provided to managers using overestimated numbers, managers might in turn provide false sales numbers to corporate or inflate a projected goal. The results could be such a large gap between the projections and the actuals that the data could be considered almost meaningless and an exact answer or close estimate cannot really be determined.
The final example of statistics abuse that this article discusses is the refusal to recognize that one variation in a data set is probably not the norm, but rather like the name calls it a "variation." This type of data could be considered flawed and the manger reporting or acting upon the flawed data could result in serious consequences.
The article, Uses and Abuses of Drug Law Enforcement Statistics analyze a report conducted in Australia which studied law enforcement statistics that are used in a "biased and unscientific manner" to reveal points of view in debates concerning drugs. The report claims that the statistics regarding drug offenses recorded by the police department has increased considerably in the last few years. These figures propose an increase in drug use. The author states that the problem in using law enforcement statistics is that the information is dependent on police activity and has no direct relation to changes in drug use. The study determined that the greater the effort by police, the more drug offenses will be detected and goes on to say that actual number of recorded offenses is not a "useful indicator over time because it does not reflect changes in population." In the report, all police jurisdictions showed an increase in rates regarding recorded drug offenses, but the size of increase was different amongst the various jurisdictions. The actual number of offenses in the community may stay the same or remain stable, but the recorded offenses by police will increase due to an increase in manpower or resources being used for drug offenses during that time, causing the statistics to represent inaccurate information. The author suggests that using these figures for statistical purposes would represent inaccurate changes in illegal drug use. These statistics from drug law enforcement in Australia should not be used as a gauge of illegal drug use dilemma. If a particular police department decides to devote more time to drugs, the figures cannot accurately reflect changes in drug use levels in the community. The report states that the only statistics produced by law enforcement that can be used are those concerning marijuana and not heroin or cocaine, which is the main concern of the public in Australia. The government would like to focus on drug dealers, but the majority of offenses recorded are possession or use of drugs. The author concludes by stating that "informed debates on drug issues and proper evaluation of law enforcement policies" cannot be possible until the information collected on the illegal use of drugs is accurate and must be gathered; this would give Australia the material needed to make a more exact estimate of the drug problem in the country.
Australia lacks information related to actual drug use outside of the police information available
Information is inaccurate due to the fact that time and resources spent by police for a particular time period will significantly alter statistics on drugs
The law enforcement information is mainly for cannabis and rarely includes information related to more serious drugs, such as heroin and cocaine
Statistics is not collected from the population of Australia, which would provide better samples.
The article analysis of flawed research concludes illustrates many occurrences where flawed research data is being used. These flawed statistics are being used within companies, government, and even schools to name a few. The statistical data can cause bad business decisions to be made, put people in harm, or even create a false sense of help.
Deane, H. and Wardlaw, G. Uses and Abuses of Drug Law Enforcement Statistics
Retrieved September 23, 2003 from http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/tandi/ti01.pdf
De Losa, P., Seligman, D. (1995, February 20). Stats Online. Fortune, 131(3), 126. Retrieved September 22, 2003, from EBSCOhost database.
Kwiatkowski, K. (2003, August). Pentagon decision-making: seriously flawed. The Record. Retrieved September 29, 2003 from Proquest Database on the World Wide Web: http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb.
Lumpur, Kuala (2003, February 23). Reacting to business challenges with speed
and positive results. New Straits Times, pp. 17. Retrieved September 30, 2003. http://www.scquare.com.my/cgi-bin/scquare.shtml.
SCQuARE, Creating and Selling Better Plans Faster. Retrieved September 30, 2003, from http://www.scquare.com.my/cgi-bin/scquare.shtml.