Are You Worthy of Belief?

Is your work “believable”?  Standards require work to be “credible.”

My curiosity got me this time.  I researched “get people to believe you.”  As you might guess, what I found is unsettling.

First of all, one of the pieces of advice was to actually tell the truth!  Imagine.  Also, back up:  “back up your words by charts, statistics, numbers and research findings.  And another thing:  believe in yourself.

So far, so good.  Then there was some stuff about body language, skepticism, and first shaking their beliefs.  Hmmm, not what I expected.  Then it gets worse.  Most of what I found covered both telling truths as well as untruths.  There was no real difference.  How to sell things.  The following techniques work to get people to believe you whether you are writing the truth, or writing a lie.  I got nervous.  One author summed up:  provide enough evidence, sound extremely confident, repeat your ideas, and use social proof.

Provide enough evidence:  This one bothers me in our context, because we use limited evidence (picking comps) based on “good judgment.”  Also, we tend to limit our ‘evidence’ to four or five comps, rather than some objective data selection process.Is your work "believable"?

Repetition:  Simply telling the same idea several times works.  We know this works in advertising, in politics, and in any culture.  Especially today, where we are bombarded with data and claims and promises – we simply cannot take the time to check out everything we are told, even when we have to make a decision.  But believing helps.

Sounding confident:  Here they tell me “believe it yourself.”  “So to make someone believe a lie, make yourself believe that the lie is actually a reality, then come up with various examples of presenting it!”  Or we could say:  “support your belief.”  And be good at it.

Tell some truth:  “The best lies are the ones that have some truth in them.”  Even tell some negatives.  Then you can gain the appearance of objectivity.  Remember, belief/credibility is the goal, not actual truth or measurable reliability.  Be enthusiastic.  Be confident.

Social evidence:  “Everyone does it this way.”  Point out that our standards (an acceptable scope of work) are controlled by two factors:  1) what “regularly intended” users expect; and, 2) what our peers’ actions would be.

Wow!  Provide enough evidence.  Repeat your idea.  Sound confident. Tell some truth.  And just follow what everyone else does.

Form your opinion, then “support justify, and explain.”

Is it time for us to look at things differently?  Perhaps we might consider a different set of words:  “provide data, reasoning, and the result.”  As Gary Kristensen said in response to an earlier post, “I’ve always talked about explaining, justifying, and supporting, but in practice I’m providing data, reasoning, and a result. I need to start talking the same way I work..”

A side note: The registration page for Stats, Graphs and Data Science 1 in Phoenix, AZ, July 13th and 14th is up! Sign Up Today!