Do you have the courage to question your own understanding of the world, doubting a cherished belief that may not be supported by evidence? Would you be a better leader, team member and citizen if you did? Researcher Brendan Nyhan seems to have this kind of courage.
Nyhan was one of the researchers whose work evolved into the popular backfire effect, a widely reported behavior where once a person forms a belief, then offering objective evidence to the contrary causes the person to dig in their heels and defend the belief even more firmly. Now, Nyhan is considering new research that may refute the backfire effect.
I have a reference manual on my bookshelf entitled, Successful Marketing Planning. Produced by a former employer as a compendium of marketing “best practices”, it is well made with thick paper and color-coded tabs, and oozes confidence. But here’s the thing. The manual makes no reference to any actual successful marketing project that resulted from following the practices, I don’t recall any examples of successes that were presented with training that accompanied the manual, and I knew of no other manager who had claimed success thanks to the best practices as stated in the manual.
In fairness, there may have been well-documented successes attributable to the practices that were never revealed for some reason or by oversight, and the failures of which I was aware could have been due to poor execution of the practices. Who’s to say if the practices in my manual, or any best practices, actually “work” or not?
When the Medical Device Excise Tax was announced it generated much-heated debate (http://1.usa.gov/1l0GFeJ). That heat seems to have dissipated over the past months as other issues have floated to the top of the news heap.
Many didn’t seem to understand the furor over a relatively small 2.3% tax on medical devices. The tax, however, is taken right off the top-line sales rather than net profit, and this calculation has the potential of a large impact on the operations of medical device firms (http://bit.ly/1q4n13w).
A lot of speculation was offered as to why the tax would be either a good thing for healthcare or the death knell for the medical device industry. I, too, provided my opinion on what I felt were 5 likely outcomes regarding the future of the tax from repeal, through modification to inaction. But the fact is that no one knew outcomes for certain because the actual effect of the law hadn’t yet played out. Everyone was guessing which still seems to be the case.