Numbers Don’t Lie. Except When They Do.

85% of college graduates are returning home to live with their parents.

Eighty-five percent.

It’s hard to believe. But that statistic has been cited by The Huffington Post, CNN and Time Magazine. So it must be true.

Except that it’s not.

A recent segment on On The Media dissected the dissection of this stat. For anybody who lives in the world of secondary research, it’s worth the five minute and forty-six second listen. It’s a – scary – story of how a data point started at a now defunct company with a website that featured bios of people who never actually worked there and ended up as a top search result on Google.

We talk a lot about shifts in consumer culture. From an abundance of time and a scarcity of choice to just the opposite: An abundance of choice and a scarcity of time. It changes how people process information. Prioritize choices. And make decisions. But that phenomena does not end in the supermarket aisle. It manifests itself in cubicles, offices and conference rooms all around the country.

In an age of speed and search, fact checking and critical thinking are more important than ever before. And it’s always worth the time to take the extra step. Even if Time would suggest you don’t need to.

Interested in more stuff I find interesting? Follow me @casey_flanagan on Twitter.

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