Is Your Decision Based on Knowledge or Belief

In today’s IntelligenceReport on Parade.com they have a quiz to test people on whether you know what Democrats and Republicans stand for http://www.parade.com/news/intelligence-report/quiz/hey-big-spenders.html. They used some the data in the book Presimetrics, by Mike Kimel and journalist Michael E. Kanell where politicians’ claims with the decisions they made from 1952 to 2008 are compared. In the survey you find a few interesting facts, such as:

  • Reagan actually increased the number of Americans working for the federal government while it actually decreased under Carter, Clinton and George W. Bush.
  • The USA’s GDP (the value of goods produced by a nation’s economy has tripled since 1950. So the theory that everything is made overseas should always be a concern but can’t be valid.
  • The national debt grows faster when control of Congress is mixed rather than when one political party has full control, refuting claims that the debt would grow faster if Congress is controlled by the Democrats.

While I have not verified these supposedly validated facts, there is a critical point here. Whenever you are making a decision, one of the key elements is the validity of the information you use to make it. For example, I believe the information in the article I referenced is fact. But I have not verified it, it’s only a belief. I am assuming that Parade understood and interpreted what they were reading correctly, and that Mike Kimal and Michael Kanell did their research well and properly analyzed the data. The point is that “knowledge” is absolute and is either correct or not. There are varying degrees of “belief”, and “belief” can still be wrong or right. I would need to do some more work to validate my belief, which would then create “knowledge”.

Too often we hear or read something and automatically assume it is knowledge based on fact. Our belief is based on the integrity we attribute to the writer or the speaker. However, in today’s world of gathering information through our information sources, which now include Twitter, Facebook and blogs, and the speed at which information is collected, disseminated and decisions are made, there seems to be less emphasis on verifying the facts and validating the information.

In the past, many people have made important decisions based on what turned out to be invalid information. We are now at risk for this to happen more often and rapidly. Before making decisions, it is important to determine the criticality of the decision (its impact on well-being, financial stability, etc.) and what information is mission-critical to that decision. The larger and more critical the decision, the more information you need to gather and greater the importance one should place on verifying that the information is “knowledge” instead of “belief”.

Howard Shore is a business growth expert that works with companies that want to maximize their growth potential by improving strategy, enhancing their knowledge, and improving motivation. To learn more about him or his firm please contact Howard Shore at (305) 722-7213 or [email protected].

Business Coach, Decision Making