Some books are simply indispensable. One such classic is How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff. I have had one of the over million copies sold on my desk since I first acquired a tatty secondhand paperback in 1978. Of course, that’s when content was king and influence was measured in royalties, reprints and guest appearances on the Russell Harty Show.
Social Media Saturday: Who Are The HR Bloggers? features an infographic that visualizes a survey of HR bloggers, presumably those listed in the day’s prior post Ultimate HR/Career Blog List for 2011: V3.0.
Credit goes to Ms. Ruettimann’s lucky intern, comrades in marketing at Starr Tincup, for an otherwise delightfully decorative piece. And full props to Ms. Ruettimann for filing both posts under General Nonsense, even if it is, as seems to be the case, her popular site’s default category.
At issue here are four things…
- The use of contrived statistics to artfully confuse semblance with substance
- Perpetuation of a trend to present trivia as meaningful data and it’s subsequent regurgitation as “content”
- The promotion of pseudoscience as a legitimate basis on which to rank otherwise remarkably average bloggers
- Shameless linkbaiting in the pursuit of lopsided sycophancy and the unending recycling of half-baked crap.
I propose a simple test to use with these types of “analyses” and glad handing posts. To determine if the stats have any use other than promoting the publisher at the expense our lemming gullibility, simply ask yourself the question, “So what?”
By way of example, first a sampling from the grandly titled–if not exaggerated–The Ultimate List of HR/Career Blogs...
52 per cent of the sample are male; 48 per cent are [surprise, surprise!] female. So what? Isn’t that the same distribution of the sexes as in Papua New Guinea, and just about as interesting?
Pretty pictures, bar-none
Not so much a “So what?” as a “WTF?” Under “Blog Category” can anyone tell me what categories correspond with which columns, and what do the values on the bar chart actually relate to? The biggest number 29 represents what exactly? And what’s with all the two’s?
A Global Village
The regional map shows in the legend 1 per cent of the sample bloggers are in India and the same percentage in the Netherlands. So what? If my calculations are correct that would be one and one-half a blogger in each location. And, if Eastern Europe–wherever that is these days–has three times the number percentage-wise, how many bloggers is that…exactly?
And now for the shocker! 100 per cent of those surveyed–that means everyone, folks–said they are “Likely” or “Very Likely” to share content with their network. STOP THE PRESSES! Everybody, quick! Re-tweet, re-post and blog it in a list, yo!
Turning our attention to the Ultimate HR/Career Blog List for 2011: V3 list I couldn’t help but wonder why not call it a blogroll if that’s what it amounts to? Rather than validate the selection, I think the inclusion of Klout scores simply serves to confirm the industry default that supposes if you don’t know how a particular metric is calculated you’d better keep your trap shut for fear of being labeled an HR primitive. Allow me to enlighten you: Statistically speaking, Klout scores are entirely meaningless…46 per cent of the time.
Nothing but the BS, so help you blog
Included with each listed blogger’s name is their Twitter handle and Klout score. “So what?”
“So what,” indeed. Rather, I think this list with it’s Starr Tincup inspired blog-bling is a not-so-subtle attempt to engineer page rank. Like the infographics, the parade of pipers is a sweetening of the pot for the hive-minded and buzz-beguiled, and more self-serving than meets the eye.
In closing, and on a positive note, I have compiled Ms. Ruettimann’s blogroll into a search engine so that one might extract some value from the assembled list and its content. And as Ms. Ruettiman’s closes her post, so shall I: