The innumeracy and its consequences

An innumerate is a person unfamiliar with mathematical concepts and methods; unable to use mathematics; not numerate.

For instance, the advertisement “The day without  21% VAT!!”, in reality the product price does not decrease 21%, it just decrease 17,36%. In the advertisement it is always shown the 21% making you to believe that the discount is a 21% discount.

It’s very easy to manipulate the opinion of the receivers of the information with the same data shown in a different way. We can see this every day in the newspapers, tv news and unfortunately on the politician comments.

In PMO and project reporting there is a extended parameters that clearly shows you the finance/schedule status of a project, so in this area the risk of innumeracy is lower.

In corporate reporting, when you go far away of the finance closing reports, you can fall into the trap of the secondary reports that tries to show specific perspectives of a trend or situation of the business. You need to understand the filters and manipulation done to the figures and have a good amount of historic data to confirm or refute the chart.

There are thousand ways to mislead people with numbers, you need to fight against your own innumeracy continually.

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